When I was asked to address the difference between writing and pitching for Pentalk, I knew the obvious answer. Writing is creating the story and the characters. Pitching is an attempt to interest someone in the story, usually an agent or an editor. But in the real world, pitching works best integrated on both the front end and the backend of the writing.
What most new writers don’t know is the pro’s (meaning writers who are published) spend time on pitching before they write. Yes, that’s correct. You see, it’s a lot easier to write a book when you have the basic components lined out. And that’s what a pitch does. It boils the story down to the essential elements that will interest an agent or editor because those elements interest the reader.
In fact, when I teach my “Pitch Your Book” workshop (now available as an iPhone app) I tell attendees they’re going to learn fiction development techniques before we’re done. I have to teach those techniques in order for the writers in the crowd to be able to use my three-step plug-and-play formula on their story to develop their own pitch. They need to understand the basic elements of a story.
New writers go at this exactly backwards from experienced writers. Here’s what I mean. Most new writers get an idea (wouldn’t it be cool if?) and they take off writing. Then they get stuck. When they finally trudge through to the finish, mostly by trial and error, they then attempt to figure out how to pitch. And that’s usually a scary, miserable, frustrating, and exhausting process.
I can take a beginning writer and teach them to make their book sound like something an agent or editor would like to see. But the experienced writer develops their pitch for the story before they write it. There are two reasons for this. One is an experienced writer doesn’t have to write the entire story before they sell it. They have a track record so they don’t need a completed manuscript in order for an agent or editor to believe they can do the work. Second, an experienced writer knows this work up front simplifies the process. Not that writing a book is ever easy, but it can be made easier if you know what you’re aiming at when you start.
I said all that to say, I see writing and pitching much differently than I did when I started writing. Now I see the two as connected. Pitching is a preamble to develop the structure of a compelling story. Then there’s writing. Then there’s pitching again as the end game to take the story to the marketplace when the book is finished.
Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with awards for fiction and non-fiction. An iPhone App of her popular three-step formula workshop for writers, “Pitch Your Book,” is available in the Apple iTunes store. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber had this to say about Linda’s new novel, "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." Visit her website: www.LindaRohrbough.com.
I see pitching as something done first to create the structure for the writing. And then something you come back to when you’re done to use again and again as a tool to talk about the book to people you don’t know.