The third panel I attended on Sept 10th was “Making a Case for Your Book.”
Jeff Kleinman from the previous panel was the entertaining moderator. Here were the major points I picked up:
- Kleinman suggested starting with “dear lucky editor” in your queries. Obviously changed that when you send it out
- Summarizing the plot in a query can be the most difficult part. The panel recommended an X meets Y format. Example: my novel is 50 Shades of Grey meets Jane Eyre.
- The pitch has to answer who is the reader for this project
- There should be a clear indication of what drives the work
- The pitch must be transportable and memorable. The pitch may appear in print or online, on a website with lots of context or just one of many ads in the newspaper. Either way, the pitch has to be flexible and coherent enough to stand alone in any content.
- Emily Griffin suggested gathering up the books you love, and reading the jacket copy — that’s a pitch. Also check out the even shorter pitches of books in the back of the New York Times Book Review. Descriptions there are often one to two sentences.
- Erika Imranyi said you can tell what publishers are spending energy on by looking just examining your genre’s shelf.
- Griffin said that the tricky thing with coming up with a 1-2 sentence pitch is “you may not know what that sentence is until you write the book.”
- All the panelists agreed that chapter outlines were massively important. Publishers, editors and agents need chapter outlines to tell what’s at stake in each section.