the writer's arsenal: pitch, query, back cover copy


Call it whatever you want--as a writer, at some point, you're going to have to sum up your story in a few short, hooky paragraphs. Starting out, you'll need this fine-tuned pitch or query blurb when you're approaching agents, then publishers (though once you have an agent, they will often help you position it to perfection!), and ultimately, if you land that elusive book deal, it will likely be the beginning of what copywriters will eventually turn into magical back cover copy a.k.a. those enticing lines on the back of book that make you decide to pop it in your basket instead of returning it to the shelf.

Many authors find it easier to write a multi-page synopsis than a shorter pitch (not to mention those one-liner loglines!), though I hear complaints about having to write all of the above. It's true that writing a pitch or synopsis requires a different skill set than writing a novel. A novel is pure creative whimsy while a pitch is a marketing piece. But that doesn't mean both aspiring and experienced authors don't need to know how to do it all. I know I don't have to tell you how important self-marketing is in today's publishing landscape. In fact, it really couldn't be more important. It's not enough to just write a book, you need to be able to sell it--first to an agent, then to a publisher, and then to a slew of readers, which might end up being the hardest sell of all. 

Because so many authors find it challenging to write their pitch, they often wait until a book is complete before writing it. Put it off as long as possible. And it makes sense, right? Why write a blurb about a book when you don't even know how it's going to end? Well, my answer to that, being an outliner, is that you probably should have an idea as to how it's going to end, at least enough of one that you could write an enticing couple of paragraphs (which shouldn't mention the book's ending anyway). As a writer myself, I actually find it helpful to write the pitch first, all the while asking myself, what is the main hook of this story? Has every pitch I've written in advance been a perfect representation of the book I was about to write? No. But there's also nothing wrong with tweaking them as you go. And just having something on paper had always helped me to stay focused. Outlines are great. I'm a big fan. But sometimes when you're writing, it's extremely helpful to read a succinct snapshot of what's at the heart of the story. It helps you stay on track, even if it's not yet perfect. And when you're ready to polish those materials before sending them off to agents and editors, we can help you fine-tune to make them as appealing as possible

A previous version of this post originally appeared on