Writing is book is hard, but the really difficult stuff comes after it’s finished. After the editing, revising, rewriting, and cleanup, you’ve still got nothing but a book. Your next step is to get the novel to readers, and hopefully make some money doing so.
When it comes to publishing, you’ve basically got three options:
- Query smaller markets
- Seek representation to query larger markets.
Regardless of how you plan to publish your novel, you’re still going to need to be able to answer the following three questions, whether you’re pitching to an agent, querying a publisher, or marketing a self-published novel.
1. What is the book about?
You know, it’s so crazy. You put months or even years into your novel. Fifty, sixty, eighty, maybe a hundred thousand words. But as soon as someone asks what the book is about, you freeze, you panic, you stammer, unable to come up with the measly twenty words it takes to answer that question. Or worse, you fly into a fifteen minute soliloquy, detailing minor characters and subplots.
Don’t let this question scare you. Come up with a 30 second or 20 word elevator pitch and practice it until you’re blue in the face. This is the pitch you use when you meet potential agents, costumers, or local bookstore and coffee shop owners.
2. What is the main conflict of the novel?
This is something you’ll need more for pitching than for marketing, but it’s important to be able to answer it. The answer needs to be short and sweet. I’d say try to keep it to one paragraph.
Ignore any subplots and think solely about your main storyline. What is your character trying to achieve? And what gets in his way? That is the conflict you need to focus on.
3. What is the theme?
This is most difficult question for me to answer. You think about theme, and what do you think about? Coming of age? Redemption? Revenge? Love?
It’s so hard to come up with something here that doesn’t sound generic, but that’s where you need to start. Think about your answer to the first question “What is the book about?” Now come up with a one-word summary of that answer.
That is your theme.
To answer “What is the theme?” take that word you just came up with and incorporate it with your answer to the first two questions. Then you might be onto something.
Like I said, this one is hard for me.
So now that you know how to talk about the basic points of your novel, it’s time to start querying. Best of luck to ya 🙂
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know.