Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See a Compelling Project

Note: This is the second post in a series of 4 posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 thingsYou’re heard of the fabled “elevator pitch”? You’re in an elevator and are suddenly given the opportunity to pitch your idea to someone who could make it a reality. You have a few sentences to communicate clearly the nature of your project.

Pressure’s on.

And this really is a Goldilocks and the 3 Bears situation:

  1. If you say too little—either the number of words or the impact of those words—you lose.
  2. If you say too much—either the number of words or the impact of those words—you lose.
  3. The way you present your project needs to be “just right”

You could say….

  • “I’m writing a book.” (yawn, check phone) Four words is probably not enough.
  • Or you might spit out, “I’m writing a book on marriage” (There’s no impact, nothing memorable, nothing distinctive.)
  • Or you might go with, “I’m writing an in-depth treatise on the common misperceptions about the mating rituals of married white American evangelical females between the ages of twenty-eight and twenty-nine occurring in suburbs within twelve miles of six major U.S. cities after nine pm…” (Just wrong on so many levels.)

Nothing about any of those makes a publisher want to know more.

  • But what about: “The Singular Secret To a Vibrant Marriage”?

Now the editor is curious to know more. What is it?!

A book proposal is really just an expanded elevator pitch. You need to communicate very clearly and efficiently what your book is about so that publisher will want to know more. Don’t make them work hard to figure it out.

Exercise: Right now, give the two-sentence pitch for the book that’s in your heart. Out loud. To the walls. Write it down. Then, when there’s a human within range, give them the pitch. Then ask them:

  1. Do you feel like you know what the book is about? Could you communicate it to someone else?
  2. Is it unique? Are there other books like it?
  3. Based just on the hook/pitch, does it engage you to want to know more? Do you want to buy and read it? Why or why not?

With this feedback, work further to articulate what is unique and compelling about your book.

Cheering you on,