Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Conceive a Successful Nonfiction Book, Create a Pitch Before You Write

If you think that only an aspiring author seeking a traditional publishing contract needs a pitch, think again. Every aspiring nonfiction author should take the time to craft a 25-word pitch--even those thinking of independently publishing their books.

Many people know of a "pitch" as an elevator speech. This is the short and creative promotional speech you have ever ready to offer if and when you happen to find yourself in an elevator, lunch line or cocktail party with a literary agent or acquisitions editor. Having this speech prepared allows you to pitch your book. An effective pitch should elicit one response from the person who hears it: "Tell me more." You should then be prepared with three bullet points that elaborate on the pitch.

However, if you don't plan on pitching to an agent or editor—for instance, if you plan on independently publishing your book—you should still craft a great pitch, says publishing mentor Nina Amir. "In fact, just as an aspiring nonfiction author needs a pitch prior to actually completing a book, any nonfiction writer planning on writing a book should have a pitch before sitting down at the computer to compose a manuscript."

The reason for this is simple she explains: "A book pitch helps you focus your idea. If you take the time to write a pitch prior to writing your book, you'll know exactly what your book is about, which means you'll write a targeted—and more successful—book."

What does Amir, the president of CopyWright Communications in Los Gatos, CA, mean by success? "A successful book by industry standards is a book that sells."

In today's publishing environment, however, a typical nonfiction book may sell as few as 250 copies per year and only 3,000 copies in its lifetime. An aspiring author should want to conceive a "better-than-average" nonfiction book, says Amir.

"It's been said that if you can't write your book's idea on the back of a business card, you don't know what it's about. That's why I recommend writing a 25-word pitch early in the process of conceiving your book," Amir explains.

To write a book pitch, Amir suggests the following: "When writing your pitch focus on how people will benefit from reading your book, how it is unique or its special benefits and features. You want to be clear about what it is about, how it is unique and why someone should read it."

Once you've accomplished this, you can pitch to an agent, an acquisitions editor or a prospective reader. When someone asks you what you're book is about, you won't hesitate to answer. "Plus, when you sit down to write your book, you'll know exactly what your book is about and what promise you must keep to your readers," concludes Amir. "That means you'll be more likely to write a successful book--one that sells to publishers and to readers."

Amir is a seasoned journalist, nonfiction editor, author, consultant, and writing coach and publishing mentor with more than 30 years of experience in the publishing field as well as the founder of Write Nonfiction in November, a blog and writing challenge. Currently, she also serves as the national Jewish Issue Examiner and a staff writer at Grocery Headquarters magazine. She also is a popular speaker on topics related to publishing and writing. She currently is writing a book that will show aspiring authors how to use the step-by-step process of writing a nonfiction book proposal to help them hone and focus their ideas so they can create traditionally published or self-published books that sell.

Amir is available for interviews or to speak to groups, organizations or conferences.

Source: Nina Amir
CopyWright Communications

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