6 Top Tips on Pitching Your Book to a Publisher

By Stella Harvey

1.  Research the publisher you are pitching to. Understand what they publish.

2. You have 15 minutes with the publisher, spend half of that time talking about your book and yourself. In other words, approximately 7 of the 15 minutes.

3. When talking about your book, what are the key interesting elements that will make it stand out, i.e., how is it different than the books out there now? What are the key themes at the soul of your book, e.g., loss, belonging, etc

Also how is your book similar to other books the publisher has published? If some of your key themes have been dealt with in a similar way with books the publisher has previously published with some success, it’s worth mentioning those books, but also noting how your book takes different twists or does something differently with the themes. Publishers will often request that you supply several “comps” or other book titles (or even movies) that your book is comparable to.

When speaking about yourself, note who you are re: your background both with writing (previous publishing credits if you have them) and with other careers, and any associations and groups you might belong to that may be possible places where books can be sold.

If you’re associated with a festival or a professional organization (e.g., medical association, teachers, library, etc.) or a book club or you have an incredible social media presence these are the things publishers want to know because it will help them understand how widely the book will sell.

So, think about who you are, all your contacts and how to present this to a publisher in a succinct way that will show them you can sell your book, if for example, they put you on a book tour or pitched you to a festival.

4.  Publishers also want to know if you are a writer who is committed long term to the craft, so talking about your writing life (writers’ groups, previous publications, related education) helps them to understand your dedication.

Remember: When speaking about your book and yourself be succinct and make sure your presentation answers the questions: why this, why me, why now?

5.  In the second half of the time you have with the publisher, think about questions you might ask them, both about their publishing house and their interest in your book, the potential next steps. It’s okay to ask them, “Are you interested in my book?”

6. The most important thing to remember is this is a conversation between two equals who are trying to figure out if they can work together.

The Speed Dating: Pitch a Publisher Session happens Friday October 15.