Are you being perfectionistic with your book pitch?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a post about the downside of being perfectionistic with your book pitch…

I like to do things proficiently, with a certain flair (when I can manage it). But I try to stop well short of perfection.

Perfection does no one any favours. This is especially true for anyone who’s writing a book and seeking to find an agent or a publisher.

In a recent blog post, Nathan Bransford — current author and former agent — wrote this: “No one is going to reject your book if you have a typo in your synopsis. No one is going to refuse to buy your self-published novel because your author bio has insufficient short story publications.”

Instead, he suggests that authors focus on a small number of “big goals.”

These are:

  1. Write the best book you can:  Every other piece of advice fails in the face of this crucial objective. If no one wants to read your book then nothing else matters. Really.
  2. Get good editing: Editing is about much more than fixing typos or catching spelling mistakes. Every writer needs a good editor and your editor can provide a crucial pair of “fresh eyes” that will help make your book so much better. (And this will help you achieve objective #1.)
  3. Write a killer pitch: The most important thing? Your two-to-three paragraph plot description (for fiction and memoirs) or book description (for other nonfiction) for your query letter. Yes, it all comes down to two to three paragraphs.
  4. Market as best you can: Some writers freak out at the idea of needing to be everywhere — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (assuming it continues to exist.) Don’t do that. Make an effort to build relationships with future readers, but spend more time improving your writing.
  5. Conduct yourself like a professional: There’s no place for prima donnas outside of opera and ballet. Focus on being polite and thoughtful and you’ll be way ahead of many other people.

As Bransford puts it: “Get these five things right! And do your best not to sweat the rest.”

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