SELLING YOUR STORY IN 60 SECONDS is a book about pitching, which is the art of briefly describing your book/screenplay/story in such a compelling way that the listener wants to read your work. Screenwriters have always given verbal pitches, but more and more novelists are getting into the act. At most writer’s conferences and some genre conferences, pitching to literary agents and book editors is the centerpiece of the weekend. It seems awkward to describe a written work with spoken words, but it’s a great skill to have. At some point, every author will be asked, “What is your book about?” It’s important to be able to sum up a story quickly.
SELLING YOUR STORY IN 60 SECONDS has incredible focus. Hague is only telling readers how to pitch. Not how to write a screenplay or novel, not how to find an agent, not how to work with people in the business. Hague zeroes in on those ten minutes of a writer’s life when he’s sitting across from an agent or movie executive.
Hague outlines the ten key components of a story, then shows how they can be mixed and matched into an effective pitch. He also covers what to bring to a pitch, how to begin, how to end, and how to maintain confidence in the scariest moment of a writer’s life.
After a solid start full of useful information on pitch construction, the second half of SELLING YOUR STORY IN 60 SECONDS felt flimsy in comparison. Hague gives lip service to novels, but it’s clear that he’s only talking to screenwriters. He goes into great details about where to find opportunities to pitch, but many of his ideas seem like a stretch. (Video stores? Telephone research? Really?)
The book ends with forty pages of quotes from movie executives and literary agents. Hague asked all of them the same two questions: what are some common weaknesses in pitching and what was the best pitch they’d ever heard. The answers, as expected, are similar. Since Hague already spent the previous chapters telling writers what does and does not work, there is no need to repeat that same information. Hague is padding what would otherwise be a too-short book, with the added benefit of sucking up to the “experts.”
Even so, the first half of this slim volume is well worth the price. With Hague’s information, a writer can learn to pitch a story in person, or use his tips to write an extremely effective query letter.
rating: 4 stars
pie slices: 8 slices business
This book is best for: advanced writers
I recommend this book