How to pitch: chocolate edition

Given the impending holiday, it seemed appropriate to rescue this particular topic from the flames of social media hell before it melts. Enjoy!

Having read through a few novel pitches for other people, and because I am always turning things into similes and metaphors, I have come up with yet another theory for How to Pitch. I call this one: What flavor is your chocolate?

Say your novel is chocolate, and you’re trying to sell it to other people. On the one hand, yum, chocolate! What more do you need to know? And yet, there are many kinds of chocolate. You want your potential chocolate enthusiast to know which kind they’re getting from your book.

As you’re writing the pitch, consider what makes this chocolate unique. What flavor is your character? What filling does your world contain? What fruits and nuts of plot give your chocolate texture? What shapes and sprinkles and decorative swirls of theme adorn the exterior?

What other chocolates might this one remind people of? What parts of those chocolates do you have in yours? You can potentially pique interest more easily if you know audience tastes and can convince them you’re giving them more of what they already like.

You don’t have to be verbose, but you do have to be clear and descriptive in a way that teases, tantalizes, creates expectations, makes your chocolate-craving audience reach for the delightful bonbon you’re offering them. Seduce them with your words.

You don’t have to tell them everything–sometimes there’s pleasure in the surprise. But they’ll never know if you don’t convince them to try it in the first place. If you’re too vague, too imprecise, they might reach for a different chocolate instead.

And maybe that’s good! You don’t want someone who’s allergic to dairy to grab your cream-filled milk chocolate truffle. Giving a clear indication of what to expect can help people make choices that are better for them, their tastes, their mood, whatever.

But you want the reader/eater to make the choice because of what they know about your book, and not because they don’t know enough. You don’t want them to pass yours by because it didn’t stand out from the many other apparently identical candy options.

Also, be honest! You don’t want someone to pick up your chocolate because you misled them into expecting one thing, only to hand them something else entirely. Sure, they might still like it, but they might also spit it back in your face and never trust you again.

So there you have it, friends. When you pitch, make sure you tell the agent, editor, prospective reader, whoever, exactly what flavor your chocolate is. Make their mouth water, and they’ll be happy to take a bite.

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