Learning how to pitch your writing is an essential skill for all writers. Getting ideas, and writing, means little if you can’t sell your material. You sell by pitching. I talk about pitching on my writing journal, and writers have asked about it.
Firstly, what’s a “pitch?” Basically, it’s persuasion. You’re persuading someone to buy. It’s a SALES pitch, as Michael Hauge points out:
Like it or not, it’s called a pitch because it’s a sales pitch. Even though the immediate goal is just to get your story read, you’re ultimately asking every potential buyer to invest her time and money representing or producing or publishing your story. The only way you’ll get her to do that is if she believes the end result will be a big profit.
In his article, Hauge is talking about pitching screenplays, but his advice applies to many different kinds of pitches. Whatever you’re pitching, you’re selling.
A pitch can be:
- A simple letter outlining an idea;
- A book proposal;
- A magazine or website query about an article;
- A business proposal;
- A pitch presentation.
1. Research your audience.
When you create a pitch, you’re writing advertising copy, and the first tenet of copy is always What’s In It For Me (WIIFM.)
WHY will they buy what you’re selling? As writers, we’re focused on the writing. Turn that focus around, and think about your prospect.
Essential tip... Whether you’re pitching a business proposal or a book, the pitch recipient is your prospect. If you keep that in mind, you won’t worry about rejection. If one prospect doesn’t buy, you pitch your idea elsewhere, to another prospect. And another after that…
In yesterday’s writing journal entry, I said:
I’m doing a phone presentation this afternoon, so Julia’s sending the presentation PDF to the client, and doing some research on the company. When you pitch, you need all the insights you can get. I set a reminder for 30 minutes before the call, so that I can clear my mind, rehearse, and prepare.
When the prospect invited me to pitch, I did some research on them and their audience. You can’t do too much research. However, you also need to balance the time you invest in a pitch to a prospect with: how much you want to do the project, and how likely it is that the prospect will buy.
2. Practice pitching and you’ll increase your income.
You’re a writer. You need to get comfortable pitching. You get comfortable by creating lots of pitches. A pitch doesn’t need to be anything other than a sentence – see our third tip below.
The more you pitch, the more jobs you’ll get, and the more money you’ll make.
If you’re self-publishing you pitch too. You need to pitch your book to reviewers, to Web sites which might promote you, to blogs for guest posting opportunities… and on, and on.
3. Pitch! Pitch early, and often.
The most common kind of pitch is the simplest. It can be just a sentence: “Would you be interested in an article/ book on ___________ ? (whatever)”.
You send this simple pitch to anyone with whom you have a relationship. I try very hard never, ever to send a client an invoice without pitching something else to them. It’s always just a sentence or two.
I promise you that if you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll soon have more writing jobs than you can handle… Here’s why. MOST WRITERS DON’T DO IT.
Big, big tip: if you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this – pitch. In other words… ASK.
You can’t win pitches if you never pitch. 🙂
Nonfiction book pitches (proposals) have straightforward format; just don’t forget to do your competition research.
In business, pitch presentations are common. You do a pitch presentation for longer projects. They’re common in advertising. There’s lots of money at stake, and the prospect will invite several agencies to pitch.
When you’re working with a client, ask him about upcoming projects: “Is there anything I could pitch you in relation to that?”
You can also do shorter pitch presentations too. Let’s say you’ve been cold calling, and a couple of companies want to know more about you and your services.
Do a pitch presentation by phone. Not in person – only pitch in person if there’s a project you really want to do, and then only for the people who can decide to hire you, preferably immediately.
A phone presentation is fast. Keep the actual presentation to under ten minutes. Send your prospect a PDF of the presentation, and you’re good to go. A simple “here’s what I do, and what I could do for you” pitch is an introduction to your writing business.
It’s rare that you’ll get immediate business from it, but it can happen. More likely, you might get some business six months from now, after you’ve followed up a couple of times.
So, there you have it. The basics on how to pitch your writing. Pitch early, pitch often. 🙂
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