Elements of the Novel Pitch

Back when I was trying to pitch stories for Mavel Comics, I didn’t really know what format they were looking for.  Andy Schmidt was giving me good feedback, but I never quite knew what all I should include in the pitch.  This hurt my chances, as I wasn’t thinking the pitch out to their expectations.  There was one pitch I wrote that Andy liked and said he wanted to know more on… but he didn’t bite because I made the story too long.  He wasn’t looking for a mini-series from a fresh, new author.

So, for this novel, I wanted to be sure that I was approaching it the right way so that in the end I could hopefully get it published somewhere/somehow.  David Webb at B&H was able to help me out and get me their novel proposal form.  Looking over the elements they want included, I realize that I made the right choice in taking this approach first.  Working through some of the information they want will help me better frame the story as a whole, and help me make a more complete work.

That said, there were several things in here that I really hadn’t thought all the way through, or really even begun to work on…

Audience

So who is going to be the audience for this book?  Even without an MBA, it’s common sense that for a publisher to go through the process of editing, marketing, printing and selling a book, there has to be a market out there for it.  What I find interesting here is that I would think that a lot of this work would already be done by the publisher themselves.  They know what sells of their own books and what doesn’t.  And, well, sci-fi Christian books simply don’t sell right now.

For me, I’m going to have to do some research here and discover why sci-fi Christian books don’t sell.  Are they marketed wrong?  Is there an untapped audience?

Also, as part of the “audience”, I would think this is where an author can come in and claim their own audience.  If Neil Gaiman or Ted Dekker write a book, they bring with them an established group of readers.  One of the nice things about having a blog is that I can claim a small built in audience… but right now, that’s pretty small.

Suggested Package

How do you determine if a book is worthy of a hardcover or not?  Is it it just a budget book?  For my novel this is where one of the key marketing elements will come into play for me: this book needs to be digitally distributed.  I don’t imagine a hard cover book… but if I don’t ask for one and I shortchanging my manusrcipt?

Purpose/Vision

In essence, this is asking whether or not this book is intended to have any long-term effects on the reader’s life.  I can honestly answer this one fairly easily: yes.  One of my goals with the novel is to make me think about what the future might be like and, in turn, let the reader think about it.  In studying to be a futurist, I’ve read and seen very little so far about what the future of religion and spirituality might be like.  That’s one of the primary topics I want to discuss in this novel.  Honestly, that’s a bit of the crux of this novel… to introduce Christians to the idea of thinking past two generations from now and considering how their actions today can influence the lives of people 200 generations from now.

Author Platform

It makes sense… if the author has oppertunities to speak at various locations, that’s a personal touch and gives the author more chances to sell the book.  So, um… anyone want me to speak at their conference?

Endorsement Opportunities

Essentially, who would be willing to put their name on your book to promote you.  Who do you know that already has an audience that can bleed into yours.  This is where all those nice quotes on the back of the book come from.

Competing Products

This is your best friend and your worst enemy.  If there aren’t any competing products out there… is your idea so novel and great that it can create an entire new marketplace?  If there are too many competing products… why would yours stand out?  Again, this is purely business… but important business.  An author must know his or her contemporaries.

Those, of course, are just some of the elements that B&H is looking for, outside of the expected synopsis and themes and such.  I think a lot of this legwork is important, though.  There’s a difference between just wanting to write (which I can do on here any time) and wanting to be published.  If I’m not willing to go the extra mile and do the leg work… how bad do I really want to share my story?  And if I don’t want to share my story bad enough… why should the publisher take the burden of risk on publishing it?

As an aside, I’m giving myself the deadline of September 30th, 2008 to finish the manuscript.  Yes, I know that’s nine months away… but even still, that’s qucikly approaching.  I’m taking the summer off of school, so that’s when I expect to get the bulk of the writing done. 

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