Being stocked in bookstores is a dream for many an aspiring author, but it can be difficult to get one’s foot in the door. A well-crafted pitch is much like a spell, opening doors that have previously been closed to you.
Here’s Part One of our two part series on How to Pitch Your Book – look for Part Two next week!
Every author should have a concise synopsis of their book that piques their listener’s interest. It should be one to three sentences in length, and ideally contain a catchy tagline or ‘hook’. Think of movie posters that have only a single line to entice you into watching it. This is the same idea. Your pitch should engage your listener and inspire them to want to know more. If you aren’t able to get someone interested with your pitch, they are unlikely to want to consider carrying your book in their store or purchasing it themselves.
Pro Tip: Your elevator pitch should be equally effective in writing as when spoken. This will enable you to approach bookstores by email or in person.
Having a clear idea of your book’s target audience is key. Your ‘target audience profile’ should include the general age, gender, interests and income of your main demographic. While a good book will spill over into other market groups, you should be aware of what kind of people will be most receptive to your book, and focus your immediate attention on attracting them. Bookstores will also want to know this information in order to target the right customers.
Pro Tip: Many bookstores have a certain demographic that shops at their location. If your demographic doesn’t match with their customers, your book is not likely to do well at that location. For example, if your book is targeted at fifty-something men moving into retirement, a bookstore named “Chronicles of Crime” is unlikely to want to stock your book!
You have your target audience profile, but what about your book’s?! Profiling your book allows you and your customers to understand it better: What is its genre? Its subgenre? What BISAC codes apply? What is the page count? Where can readers order your book, and can it be returned? What makes your book interesting? This is the general information that bookstore owners and readers alike will want to know, and much of it will come to light as your manuscript transforms from Word document to book. Your book profile is your chance to ‘sell’ your book to the retailer: they want to turn a profit, and you need to show them why your book can help them do so.
Pro Tip: If your book has an unusual or newsworthy angle (for example, local history, social relevance, or celebrity endorsement), this can help it stand out from the crowd as the book to purchase.