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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.”
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”