A Writing Article by Karen Cioffi

The Elevator and One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript
By Karen Cioffi

Your one sentence pitch is a very condensed, super-tight yet concise description of your story, specifically the plot of your story. Think of it as a one sentence calling card – you’re unique selling proposal or proposition. A beginning step on your book marketing journey.

You might ask why does it have to be only one sentence. Well, it may happen that the time you have to pitch your manuscript is under a minute.

Suppose you’re at a conference and happen to get on the elevator at the end of the day with a frazzled publisher or agent. You want that very short span of pitching time to be as effective as you can make it, without annoying or further frazzling your target. It may be the only opportunity you’ll have for a direct, although very brief, uninterrupted pitch.

This is where the one sentence pitch come in.

The one sentence pitch, also known as a logline, takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to condense your entire manuscript into one sentence. Within that sentence you need to harness the soul of your story (the plot) in a simple, concise, and hooking pitch.

The general writing consensus is to do your best and create one sentence that tells what your story is about. Once you have it nailed, expand it into a few more, adding only the most important aspects of the story. This expanded version is consider your elevator pitch. This is excellent practice for tight writing.
This way you’ll have two different versions of a micro pitch. It’s important to always be prepared – you never know when or where you may come upon an unsuspecting publisher or agent . . . maybe you’ll have a few seconds, maybe you’ll have 3 minutes.

EXAMPLES OF ONE SENTENCE PITCHES:

From Nathan Bransford (1):

Three kids trade a corndog (FLAVOR OF THE STORY) for a spaceship, blast off into space (OPENING CONFLICT), accidentally break the universe (OBSTACLE), and have to find their way back home (QUEST).

From Writer’s Digest (2)

NOT: “A burning skyscraper threatens the lives of thousands, including a pregnant woman trapped on the top floor.”
INSTEAD: “A former firefighter, fired for insubordination, races to save the lives of thousands of people in a burning skyscraper, including his pregnant wife.”

From Madeline Smoot (3):

The Emerald Tablet — In this midgrade science fiction novel, a telepathic boy discovers that he is not really human but a whole different species and that he must save a sunken continent hidden under the ocean.

From Janice Hardy (4)

A meek bank teller discovers a magical ancient mask that unleashes his deepest desires — and gives him superhuman abilities to act on them. (The Mask)

And, here’s my own one sentence pitch for my children’s fantasy chapter book. The 39 word version hooked a contract with a publisher:

Twelve-year-old Wang decides he’ll be rich and powerful if he can become a mystical Eternal; but after a year of hard work as an apprentice, and very little magic, he quits, but not before learning to walk through walls.
Obviously, if you have a scheduled pitch you will need to adhere to the publisher or agent’s rules as to the word count. But, even if nothing is scheduled, it’s a good idea to have that logline on hand for that you-never-know moment.

References:

(1) http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/05/how-to-write-one-sentence-pitch.html
(2) http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/thrillerfest-2011-pitch
(3) http://www.madelinesmoot.com/the-art-of-pitching-your-book-to-a-childrens-book-editor-in-just-one-sentence/
(4) http://blog.janicehardy.com/2011/10/heres-pitchits-hit-crafting-your-novels.html

About the Author

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, children’s ghostwriter, and an author/writer online platform instructor. For more on writing and book marketing, and lots of valuable freebies, get free access to The Writing World http://thewritingworld.com

Be True To Yourself!

0__IMG_6135[1]Being introverted can mean that we are badgered by many negative feelings and emotions. Most social situations make us feel very uncomfortable and sometimes even fearful. This is because we are so afraid of criticism and to be humiliated in front of others. But this need not be the case. You could change your mind-set from always expecting the worse, to simply lightening up and accepting what is.

Introverted writers all have to create a safe haven for ourselves. But before we can create this safe haven, we have to get to know ourselves and what paralyzes us completely. Here are a few things to consider when creating your safe haven:

• If public speaking is really painful for you, skip it and self-promote via Skype. You could also self-promote online and present online workshops.

• If traditional publishing scares you with all its querying and intense competitiveness, then self-publish. There are so many online opportunities to self-publish that there is no excuse not to look for that option if you are really paralyzed by the thought of sending out manuscripts.

• If meeting people in person scares you, meet them online on Facebook and Twitter. These are all possibilities and you can ensure that you still meet people and sometimes even the right people to be the best writer that you can be.

However, introverts have to remember one thing: sometimes we have to challenge ourselves and do something outside of our comfort zone to grow as writers and individuals. Introverts are especially prone to doing things that don’t scare them because they want to maintain control. But this only makes us stagnant and we won’t evolve and grow.

So, once in a while, introverted writers should do something that will be a bit uncomfortable but so that we will grow over time. If we always do the same things over and over again, we will probably not grow and we will not only remain the same but we will constrict. So, we try not to do that. Instead, we should try to challenge ourselves once in a while, and do something different.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

Don’t Worry…Be Happy!

take-your-desktop-for-a-walk-through-the-forest-nature-picture-forest-wallpaper[1]Being introverted doesn’t have to mean that we are always fretful. However, it means that we appreciate being alone and in solitude. It also means that we enjoy our own company and thrive with a bit of alone time. However, extroverts are the opposite—they thrive only when they get out of the house and spend time outside.

Being an introvert seems to be a writer’s dream. However, there are drawbacks to being an introverted writer. In order for a writer to be successful, she must not only be cooped up in her office writing for endless hours, but she must also present at writer’s conferences, send out queries and manuscripts, and consistently work at self-promotion in order to sell books.

Sometimes being a happy, introverted writer requires that we let go of control. When we are ourselves, we have all the control in the world. Not too much can happen and people are not going to criticize us or our work. However, when we are in the public domain, criticism is a very real possibility. So, many introverts refrain from going out into the public domain too much. And this again is detrimental to their success as a writer.

Here are a few ways that introverts can enjoy both the solitude when they write and social situations when they have to get out into the world to self-promote or present workshops.

1. Lighten up on the need to control

We should accept people and situations as they are. People are what they are, and there is nothing you can do about it. For instance, you can’t control the comments coming from a member of the audience; however, you can control your response to the person. Also, there is such a thing as constructive criticism. So, always take the good points out of a criticism and discard the sarcasm or nastiness, if it exists. That way you can learn from the comments and become a better writer without getting hurt all the time.

2. Lighten up on being right all the time

It can be so exhausting to always try being right. It is downright difficult and it can open us up to stressors that we would not necessarily have if we didn’t always insist on being right. Try not to be opinionated. Instead, allow others to share their views and be kind when they do.

In addition, we should not take their negative views of our work personally. Most of the comments that are made by others are not personal attacks. They are simply subjective comments made by another person. So, we have to step out of the victim role and be much more secure and confident about ourselves as a writer. I realize this is hard to do at first. But with practise, you can achieve this.

3. Lighten up on the blame game

Writers tend to feel better when they can blame others for their misfortunes. But most times, when something goes wrong, it is our own fault. For instance, when we don’t get to the desk to write for days on end, it’s not our family’s fault but ours for not sticking to our original writing commitments. So, try to think positively and get out of complaining and blaming others for your misfortunes all the time.

By lightening up on these forms of control, introverts can stop worrying and they can be happier and more fulfilled. We all need to be less controlling and to just let things happen as they should. This is especially the case if we are with people and in social situations. We cannot control what others will say or do. But we sure can control what we do. And who knows, maybe the most important insights come to us from other people. So, we should look for these gems of wisdom as much as possible.

Irene S. Roth
Philosopher, Freelance Writer, Author, and Editor

From Inspiration to Self-Discipline

newyears-path-1024x633Do you find yourself inspired to start a project only to find that you lose energy and don’t want to pursue the same project even a few weeks after you started it? Do you start all guns blazing only to crash in terms of your motivational energy to complete the project?

If you answered the above questions in the affirmative, believe me you’re not alone. It seems that inspiration is not enough for us to complete our projects. Yet, inspiration is certainly enough for us start a project. But over time, our inspiration for a project will turn flat and begin to dwindle down and our energies plummet. That is when we will be tempted to quit this project and start another one.

What is worse, it is quite possible for us to never get back to that project, further complicating whether or not we will complete our writing projects. Obviously, if we don’t complete the writing projects that we start on a consistent basis, we won’t be productive or successful. And this, in turn, will cripple our self-confidence as writers, and make us feel as if we can’t complete any manuscripts.

But this need not be the case if we realize that, although inspiration is necessary to start a project, we need more than inspiration to actually stick to a project through all the ups and downs to the point where we are successful in completing the project. What we need is the self-discipline to complete our projects. If we have self-discipline and inspiration, then we will successfully work on our projects until completion.

So, what we need to stick to a project long-term is more than the fleeting feeling or emotion that is associated with the initial high that we receive when we get a new idea to write about. We need to make a commitment to the project and to have the self-discipline to slog through all the hard times—and yes, there will be quite a few such times. They are what one of my writer friends call test markers. A test marker is something that tempts you to quit or abandon your project because everything seems to be going wrong for you. Not only that, but your initial motivations probably died by now and you are merely going through the motions. So, it is much easier to simply quit. But notice that this temptation to quit is usually based on a feeling that is fleeting and temporary. If you just stand back for a few days and not quit, you will probably carry on quite well and complete the project.

As we all know, quitting is not conducive to success as a writer. And if you get into the habit of quitting many of the writing projects you start, you will be frustrated and unsuccessful. So, it is important to develop the self-discipline that will take your projects from inspiration to completion.

When you have self-discipline as a writer, you won’t be tempted to quit, even when everything is going wrong, because you will have a long-term plan in place for completing this project and you have committed to it. Self-discipline is not based on a feeling but it is based on a long-term attitude of commitment towards working hard to complete what you started, regardless what you feel at the moment.

So, try to develop self-discipline as a writer so that you could finish writing projects that you start. Not only will this build your self-confidence as a writer, but you will also be successful. And your inspiration along with self-discipline will help you to be the most successful writer that you are capable of becoming.

Irene S. Roth

Commitment Versus Self-Discipline

reading an e-bookIt’s not easy to become committed to writing projects by developing self-discipline and to move past the initial inspiration that motivated them to start a project. It requires more than being excited about pursuing a project. It involves making a decision to see a project through to completion, regardless of the obstacles that get in the way.

Commitment and self-discipline are crucial to reaching your writing goals and becoming a self-discipline writer. Commitments become apparent when something is gut-level important. Our commitments can pave a path to success as time goes on. Ideally, commitment involves a decision to start and complete a writing project.

In addition, commitment is a self-disciplined decision or choice to pursue a particular writing project. Writers need more than motivation to be successful with their writing projects. Here are a few steps to commit to writing goals. None of them merely require motivation to write.

• View writing commitments as important and not just a nice thing to do. Writing commitments should advance our writing careers. If they don’t we shouldn’t commit to them.

• Carefully reflect before committing to a writing project. Many writers commit to the wrong things. This can be frustrating and result in a lack of success. The writing goals we commit to must be instrumental to our long-term success. Don’t just set goals and then hope for the best. Assess the goals before committing to them.

• Always try to keep learning and researching as much as we can about the topic to be written about. It takes a lot of research to write a good quality book or article. Researching can also help commit to a project.

• Plan for success. Success doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work. Each step taken can lead to success, one small step at a time. We just have to plan our steps and bring them about one day at a time.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

Determining Your Writing Goals through Your Values

reading an e-bookWe all have deeply held values and beliefs that carry us through our lifetimes. When we become writers, we get to decide what to write and what to focus on in our writing careers. Most of what we are interested on focusing have to do with what we value and believe in.

However, there are some writers who don’t really know what their values are. They are not really aware of what they want to write and focus on. They simply cruise from one subject and audience to the other without any rhyme or reason. Writers such as this have a difficult time sticking to projects. It would seem that sometimes they are interested in one type of writing or subject only to abandon it the next week or month.

Therefore, it is important for all writers to really get a sense of their true beliefs and values. Otherwise, they will probably not be successful in their writing careers. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself as a writer if you fall into this category.

• What are your values?
• What do you truly believe in?
• What kinds of writing do you value?
• What kinds of books do you like to read?

If you can’t answer these questions, it is time to do a bit of soul-searching and reflection. Here are a few things you could do:

1. Go to your local library and browse over the kinds of books that are in the stacks. What kinds of books and topics strike you immediately and make you pick up the book?
2. Pay attention that what you believe in. Are you religious? Do you believe that there should be justice in the world? Do you try to promote this justice? Do you enjoy helping people?
3. What kinds of work do you do? Do you have a career in teaching or nursing? This may be a clue on what you could write about too.
4. What kinds of hobbies do you have? What do you really enjoy to do? This may be something that you could write about too.

By asking yourself these questions, you will be well on your way to determining your values and beliefs. Then all you have to write in these areas and you will be most successful.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

Developing the Right Attitude towards Your Writing

There is nothing as important as having the right attitude towards your writing career in order to get your writing done. After all, if you don’t think you could get the writing done, you definitely won’t be able to do it.

reading retreatMany times your attitude can negatively impact your writing and become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you think you can’t do something, you won’t be able to do it. Therefore, developing a positive attitude towards yourself and your writing is crucial to your success. Here are a few tips on how to do this.

1. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. There is nothing worse to build morale and self-confidence as a writer. It is better to decide what YOUR writing goals will be and pursue them.

2. Always know that you are doing the best you can with the skills you have. It always easy to second-guess yourself. But it’s a lot better to just do the best you can and accept the rest.

3. Take self-development workshops from time to time to upgrade your skills. This can work wonders to develop a positive attitude. It will also give you the confidence to keep propelling forward in your own writing career.

4. Enjoy your writing time. Relax, and take deep breaths and enjoy the journey of working on a writing project. It really is the best life that anyone can have.

5. Treat yourself like a professional writer. Get business cards. Dress the part, and tell others you are a writer. If you define yourself as a writer, chances are you won’t need to compare yourself to other writers. You will be busy developing your own skills and identity as a writer instead.

Do you have a positive attitude towards your writing? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Until Next Time,

Irene S. Roth, MA