Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pitch Your Book by Eddie Jones

One-Sheet Sample
It's conference time again. Can you feel your heart pumping just a little faster? Well, Eddie Jones is here to give you some insider tips and help you prepare for those agent and/or editor appointments. He's even got a sample one-sheet for you to check out. Click on the image to the left to see a full sized copy of his one-sheet for Dead Calm: Bone Dry. - Angie

Step One: Take a Breath

Sometimes at conferences authors get so jazzed up with the appointment that they aim a fire hose in the face of faculty. They’ve been told they only get a couple of minutes to make that pitch and get the editor or agent’s attention, so they come prepared with their one-sheet and proposal but then forget to take a breath.

Often, the faculty wants to know more about the person sitting across the table than they do the project. This is a relationship business. No matter how good the pitch or project, or even how well you write, if the editor or the agent doesn’t feel they can build a rapport with that author and establish a relationship, they may not be that jazzed about the project anyway. So slow down and breathe.

Step Two: Bring Your One Sheet

Bring your one-sheet. And bring your proposal if you have it. Do not expect the editor or agent to take that proposal with them. In fact, most of us may not even take your one-sheet. But it’s good for you to have both because we’re going to ask questions and you’re going to need to refer to that proposal or that one-sheet to answer those questions. We may ask what your marketing plan is and you need to be able to quickly flip to that section of your proposal and give us that information. How many Facebook friends do you have, Twitter followers, what’s your Pinterest reach, are you on Goodreads? What’s your platform and can you market the book? We may ask those questions. You need to be able to get your hands on that information quickly.

Each editor and agent looks at a one-sheet a little bit differently. I take about a minute to read over the sheet and I approach it like a reader might in a bookstore. I tell authors to imagine they are in a Barnes and Noble. They are standing in front of a bookshelf. Pick up a book and scan the front cover. That’s going to give the title, the author, and if there’s a tagline that goes with that title. The one that comes off the top of my head is – I think it was the second Jaws movie – “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”. That’s a killer tag line.

So you have your title, your tagline, your author name, and probably in some cases you have some visual elements that hints at what the cover might look like. It’s not that you’re designing the cover, but if it’s a romantic beach read you’re probably going to have picture of a sunset or a sunrise at a beach, or people walking on the beach. But you don’t have to do it this way. Some editors and agents don’t want to see visual.

Next, it’s that back cover copy. What is the promise of the book, what is its premise? Is there a payoff for the reader? If I’m interested in that book I’ll ask for more – as would a reader. That’s the power of a one-sheet.

Step Three: Be Prepared to Email Your One Sheet or Proposal

Most editors and agents that come to conferences are flying in, so they just don’t have room to take printed copies of anything back with them. Often, we will ask a conferee to email us the proposal or the one-sheet as an attachment. If you’ve got it on a flash drive, that’s good too. When I go to conferences if somebody gives me a flash drive I take that back to the room and transfer it to my laptop, and then I have it with me. For me that’s really helpful because I’m flying to conferences, and if I’ve got the proposal when I leave the conference, or the one-sheet, then in the airport and on the plane I can kind of look over a lot of what I’ve just talked with an author about, and make a decision before I get home. If I don’t do it while I’m in the air then it may be months before I get back to that author.

Step Four: Know in Advance What a House is Looking For

If an editor is not looking for the project that you’re pitching, be respectful of that and don’t argue with the editor. Most major houses have their submission guidelines up on the site, so you know what they’re interested in purchasing before you get to the conference.

Step Five: Watch the Time

Editors and agents want to give your their undivided time, but they have also been asked by the conference director to stay on schedule. Make it your job to watch the time for them. Trust me, editors and agents appreciate an author who knows the value of time and respects the 15-minute slots for ALL authors. Personally, when I find an author who helps me stay on-schedule I know that I’m looking across the table at a professional.

So there you are: pitch, breathe, listen, and leave on time.

Good luck at your next writers’ conference.

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Key to conference appointments: pitch, breathe, listen, and leave on time. Click to Tweet
Slow down and breathe. Click to Tweet
What’s your platform and can you market the book? Click to Tweet
About the Author

Eddie Jones is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Writers Conference and his Young Adult novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Award in the Pre-Teen Fiction/Fantasy category and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult fiction. Dead Man’s Hand, the first book in the Caden Chronicles mystery series, is now available from Zonderkidz.

Skull Creek Stakeout
The good news is, vampires aren't real. The bad news is...you can't believe the news. Nick Caden is a normal fourteen-year-old kid with a "supernatural" knack for finding trouble, ghosts, vampires, and all sorts of undead--or so it seems.

After solving the ghost story murder at Deadwood Canyon, Nick lands a job as a roving reporter for The Cool Ghoul Gazette, a website on paranormal or supernatural disturbances. When the editor sends Nick to investigate a murder in Transylvania, North Carolina, the young super sleuth finds a corpse with fangs, bite marks and a stake driven through the heart. If Nick proves vampires are real, his job as an investigative journalist is set for life! But once he begins to peel back the clues surrounding the mystery of Skull Creek, Nick finds his new job is not only scary and dangerous but about to suck the life out of him.

The Skull Creek Stakeout - a story middle-readers and adults can sink their teeth into.

The Caden Chronicles - winner of the 2013 Selah award for Young Adult fiction.

6 comments:

  1. Appreciate the helpful tips, Eddie, and I especially like the flash drive idea. Thanks! :-)

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  2. Great advice as usual, Eddie.

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  3. Never thought about a flash drive - great idea! www.rjthesman.net

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  4. Yes, the flash drive thing can be a great help. Especially if an editor can drag the file onto their PC / Mac in the evening and return the drive to the conferee the next day.

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  5. So glad you've joined us today, Eddie! And the timing is perfect. There are always writers' conferences somewhere, but since the ACFW is next month, I know there's a lot of people preparing.

    Adding flash drives to my shopping list ...

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  6. All good advice, Eddie. I especially appreciate the idea that we should approach it like a conversation and a "getting to know you" opportunity.

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