Having a pitch document crystallizes your vision and prepares you to articulate your book's value to other stakeholders in your author journey. In today's digital age, word of mouth and personal connections are invaluable, and your pitch equips you to leverage those.
In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan discusses what elements to include in your pitch, why each component matters, and how this exercise will provide clarity not just for you, but for everyone you interact with on your path from entrepreneur to author.
CONNECT WITH SCOTT
Scott on LinkedIn (@scottmacmillan): linkedin.com/in/scottmacmillan/
Scott on Instagram (@scottamacmillan): instagram.com/scottamacmillan/
Scott on Twitter (@scottamacmillan): twitter.com/scottamacmillan/
Scott on Medium (@scottamacmillan): scottamacmillan.medium.com
Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.
You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.
Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott MacMillan.
What’s a secret weapon that can unlock all kinds of opportunity for your book? In this episode, we’re uncovering why crafting a compelling book pitch is an often overlooked, but incredibly helpful first step in becoming a successful author.
“Now hold on”, you might be thinking, "But I'm planning to self-publish, why do I need a pitch?" or "I haven't even finished writing my book. Isn't it too early for a pitch?" Trust me, by the end of this episode, you'll see why creating a pitch document is beneficial for every single author out there—even if you have no plans to send it to a literary agent or traditional publisher.
Here's the thing: crafting a pitch doesn't need to be about selling your book to industry professionals. Just as importantly (I’d argue, more importantly) it's about crystallizing your vision, tightening your focus, and gaining a deep understanding of what your book is truly about. Even if you plan to self-publish, a killer book pitch can serve as your guiding star, keeping you on course throughout your writing journey.
But the benefits don't stop there. Having a pitch document also prepares you to articulate your book's value to other stakeholders in your author journey. We're talking potential partners, clients, social media followers, and even friends and family who could become your biggest advocates. In today's digital age, word of mouth and personal connections are invaluable, and your pitch equips you to leverage those.
So, whether you're just jotting down your first book ideas or are in the thick of the writing process, you don't want to miss today's episode. We'll go over what elements to include in your pitch, why each component matters, and how this exercise will provide clarity not just for you, but for everyone you interact with on your path from entrepreneur to author.
Let's get started.
Let's get this straight from the get-go—whether you're aiming for a traditional publisher, an agent, or you're on the self-publishing path, a book pitch is an indispensable tool. It helps you not only to crystallize your book's vision but also to articulate it across various platforms and to multiple stakeholders.
A book pitch is traditionally your sell sheet. It's what agents and publishers look at to decide if your book—and by extension, you—are worth investing in. But let's broaden that perspective for those who are ready to invest in themselves. A pitch document is like your book's business plan. It helps you keep your vision focused and serves as a reference point when you’re knee-deep in writing or marketing.
So why would you waste time creating a book pitch if you plan to self-publish your book?
Well, consider this:
- First, it forces you to clarify your vision. Writing down your ideas can reveal gaps or opportunities you hadn't thought of.
- Secondly, you're conducting a mini market analysis as you build the pitch. Who is your competition? And where does your book fit in?
- Finally, it helps you define your target audience. You need to know who you're writing for if you're going to write something that they’ll want to read.
Let's talk about what goes into a pitch.
Start with a hook. A hook is a sentence or two that encapsulates the essence of your book. Think of it as your book in a nutshell. For example, How to Win Friends and Influence People could have a hook like: "Master the art of human relations, from sparking a conversation to leading a multinational corporation."
Now, I find people really struggle with hooks and understanding what they are. So…I bet a couple more examples might help.
A hook for The Lean Startup by Eric Rize might be: "Ditch the business plan, embrace uncertainty, and build a successful startup the lean way."
Or for Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell? "Success isn't born, it's made. Discover the hidden factors that have shaped the world's top performers."
Or for The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau: "Turn your passion into profit with just $100. Learn the simple steps to launch a micro-business that frees you from the 9-to-5 grind."
Got it? Good.
Next up is the synopsis. The goal of a synopsis is to provide a detailed summary of your book’s main arguments, key points, and overall structure. A page or two (single spaced) is usually sufficient but some publishers ask for up to 3-5 pages, so longer can work too. In any case, it should be detailed enough to give a clear picture of the content but concise enough to be a quick read. It should be objective and straightforward (not market-y) focusing on the book’s intellectual contributions and structure.
Include the following:
- Introduction of the core thesis or problem that the book addresses
- Summary of each major section or chapter, along with the main points or arguments in each
- Mention of important case studies, anecdotes, or data that support the main arguments
- Conclusions or key recommendations the book offers
Next, your pitch should include a description of the audience for your book. Are you writing for first-time entrepreneurs? Seasoned CEOs? The broader your target, the harder it will be to resonate deeply with anyone, so narrow in!
I suggest that you start a bit broader by listing a few reader groups that will find your book helpful and why, and then quickly pivot to who the book will be MOST relevant for, and spending much of this section describing your ideal reader, the problems or questions they have about your topic, how those problems effect them and how their world might change for the better once they’ve read your book.
The next section is Market analysis. This is where you identify where your book fits into the existing market. Who are your competitors? What gap does your book fill? This will also help you when it comes to positioning and marketing.
Mention existing books on the market that cover the same topic as yours and how your book is similar or different to them.
Provide stats that show the market potential for your book.
If pitching an agent or a publisher, the goal here is to convince them that your book will sell.
But here’s where things may differ if you’re self publishing your book to support your business goals. Instead, you need to convince yourself (and maybe partners, investors, or other stakeholders) that your book will achieve the goals you have for it (whether that’s lead generation, positioning you in a competitive market, process improvement or other goals).
The next section to include in your pitch is called Author Platform.
This section should start with your author bio. Who are you? What is your relevant background, experience and credentials? Why are you qualified to write this book?
Then move on to describe what assets you have at your disposal to help promote your book: social media following? Email list? A podcast? Large professional network? Access to media? Access to partners?
This is also a great place to describe what you plan to do to promote your book. And if you’re self-publishing, how you plan to use your book to support and achieve your business goals.
Finally, include an outline of your book. As opposed to the synopsis described earlier, this should just be a list of all the sections and chapters in the book, and key subtopics within each. If you’ve not yet written the book, this may change, but it should reflect your current best thinking about your book’s structure.
Once your pitch is ready, you can adapt it for various needs, for example:
- To send to agents and publishers: If you are going the traditional route, your pitch is your first foot in the door. Make it count.
- For networking: You'll find the pitch useful when talking to potential partners, collaborators, or even sponsors.
- For social media: Your pitch elements can be broken down into social media posts, blog articles, or even a series of videos that help bring readers into and along your authorship journey.
- And, as an Elevator Pitch: Distill your pitch into a quick 30-second elevator pitch. Perfect for when someone asks, “So, what’s your book about?”
As you develop YOUR book pitch…remember this…
The act of crafting a pitch document is not just an administrative task; it’s a foundational aspect of your author journey. It helps you clarify your vision, align your efforts, and articulate your book's value at different stages and in various scenarios.
That's it for today's episode! Thanks for joining us on the Entrepreneur to Author podcast. If you found this episode valuable, don’t forget to subscribe and share it with other budding authors in your circle.
And remember this.
Now is the time. Time to write, time to publish, and time to grow.
I'm Scott McMillan. Until next time.