1) The four Ps of marketing, and
2) The four keys to successful pitching
In this second part of the article, we are discussing #3) The four pitch lengths for a comprehensive book promotion strategy.
You can develop a pitch for almost any situation when you approach the pitch-crafting task in 4 stages. These will serve you well when you have an unexpected opportunity to discuss your book:
1) Plane pitch – Imagine you have an hour on a plane next to a big time media reporter or book store buyer. You can’t waste his/her time, and you don’t want to be a nuisance. Do you have a mini-proposal in your mind at all times, to be ready on the spot for this kind of opportunity?
When you are pitching, remember that you are not just sharing your thoughts about your book – this is not a casual or emotional conversation. It’s fine and in fact wonderful to be passionate, but you don’t want to come across as just another author yammering about your book. Remember that you are selling, which means thinking through the eyes and ears of your customer; how to get their attention and turn it into a possibility.
It’s important to consider your listener and what will be most compelling to him or her. Think about the four Ps of marketing spoken about in part 1. Show that you understand publishing, you’ve done your homework, you know your target audience, you have a clear vision of why/how your book is unique, why the genre or topic theme of your book holds serious potential right now, plus how you will develop and expand your brand platform for healthy sales performance.
This is a tall order, but what if you have an hour on a plane next to the person who can make your dreams come true? Craft this pitch, and you will always have the big picture proposal ready in your mind. Then you can break that down into other versions, so you are ready at any moment. Even if you never get to share it on a plane, the exercise will change your mindset from an author into a publisher.
2) Cocktail party pitch – You are at a reception and someone asks politely about your book. You need an answer that shares key highlights without droning on, being rude or annoying. When you describe the top features of your book in less than 2 minutes, people are more likely to be curious and want more. Remember to consider each audience over your own favorite parts of the book. If you are speaking with a group of middle aged, professional women you will pitch differently than if you are speaking with a group of your son or nephew’s friends. Keep a link to purchase your book in Bookmarks on your phone. If/when you are ANYWHERE and someone is curious about your book, just ask for their email and forward them the link to buy it. Make it easy for them without ever being pushy.
3) Elevator pitch – this is a common phrase that most people know. Imagine you have 30-45 seconds (from lobby to penthouse), on an elevator with a powerful literary agent or Charlie Rose-type host. What are the top 2-3 selling points of your book that would make him/her pay attention, remember you and your book, and want to speak with you again? Remember to consider the four Ps of marketing and the four key points to any successful pitch. When you prepare and study each pitch in advance, you will never be caught off guard. After some time and practice, you will be selling without even trying, sometimes without even noticing!
4) Train Pitch – Imagine you are on a train, approaching the station where you must get off to be on time for an important appointment. You suddenly realize that the person next to you is a big shot media producer with a leading prime-time program about books. In one sentence, how do you summarize the essence of your book and why people will be better off after reading it than they were before? You must impress him/her with THE ONE THING that is most unique and appealing about your book. What is it? That is your hook. That is your train pitch.
Note: ALWAYS carry business cards, bookmarks, and/or postcards within easy reach, to give to anyone who might have interest in your book. Include your name, book title, website or blog site URL, contact phone # and email, Twitter name, etc.
When you have these 4 pitches (plane, cocktail party, elevator and train) prepared and fresh in your mind at all times, you will never miss an opportunity. With portable, eye-catching, branded cards, if/when you have to jump off a train at the next stop, you will always have an easy way for that media producer, book buyer, etc. to reach you.