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When Pitching Your Book By Phone

Yesterday afternoon I had yet another call from a well-meaning but ill-prepared author who was trying to ask me to consider her book for review -- especially in this time of national distress.

Every month I field about three or four such phone calls from authors and small press publishers/publicists trying to pitch their books. I'd like to share some thoughts with you so that you won't make the same mistakes so many of these folks do.

Before you pick up the phone to call a reviewer or an editor to request that your book be reviewed, or that your book would be a good resource for an article, please write down your presentation on paper. Put your pitch in a concrete, written form so that you can then read what you want to say. This has several essential benefits:

  1. When people try to "wing it" in a verbal pitch they often come across as disorganized or inarticulate. This is especially true when they have no formal training or experience in marketing.

  2. When you put your pitch down on paper it gives you a chance to hone your arguments, delete redundancies, organize your points into their most persuasive order, and ensure that all the points that need to be in the pitch are there.

  3. Having written your pitch, time your delivery. See how long it takes you to recite your pitch using a normal voice. Often a kind of "performance anxiety" creeps into the speaker's mindset, and results in him or her speaking too fast, unwittingly talking in a whine or argumentative tone, or becoming confused by subjective time distortion (you think you pitch was 30 seconds when you were actually two minutes).

  4. In your pitch, be very certain you have down specifically not just why your book is thematically appropriate, but also why it would be in that reviewer or editor's interest to pick your book over others in the same field, genre, category, or subject area.

  5. For the first several times (until you are so comfortable with reciting what you've written that it becomes almost second nature to you), read from your script aloud. Do this until you can go through it easily, naturally, and without hesitation. If you are not a experienced script reader, then practice, practice, practice (on friends, into a tape recorder, to family members) until you are.

  6. Having done all the above, it is time to make that phone call -- and read from your script! And if the reviewer/editor indicates that they don't want to hear your pitch -- stop making it, say "thank you for your time", and hang up.

I'm one of the most author/small press publisher friendly folk you will ever find in the reviewer's section of our publishing industry. And I tell you truthfully that a writer or publisher who calls me up and sounds disorganized, incoherent, ill-prepared, or pushy will negate any hope for a positive response to their request for consideration.

You can imagine the reaction of reviewers and editors who harbor prejudice against self-published authors and small press publishers, when they are on the receiving end of such phone calls.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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