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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:
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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