The Road to Top Pick Novel: Pitch Perfect Pick

See full issue for 2016 02-01

“I want to read this.”

With those five words, readers begin a potential love affair. What makes us pick up a book and slap it on the checkout counter (or click “Buy”)? That’s what publishers have been trying to figure out since there were publishers. In my last article, I talked about the minimum standards indie authors should meet to publish a book. Just because a book meets the minimum quality doesn’t mean readers will buy it. Not even close. Today, let’s raise the bar, and talk about what it takes to get noticed. Underground Book Reviews “Pitch Perfect Picks” are those novels that grab our panel’s attention, the ones our moderators would pluck off the shelf and say “I want to read this.”

Readers have money and time to invest. Authors want readers to invest that money and time in their novel. Ever watch the show Shark Tank? Its kinda like that. You have to convince the reader to take a chance on your story. A novel’s cover, synopsis and first few pages are what seals the deal.

First, catch their eye. The sales pitch starts with the cover. Make no mistake, it WILL be what first draws the reader’s attention. I know, lots of indie authors cringe when you bring up the subject of covers. Covers can be expensive, and many indie authors don’t have a lot of money to invest. Covers are also highly subjective, too. They may also not adequately represent what’s inside the book. However, a cover should never detract, nor should it misrepresent, what is inside. We also know an indie e-book’s cover can be changed with a click of a mouse. Therefore, when considering a novel for our Pitch Perfect Picks, we weigh a novel’s cover least among the considered variables.

Second, get them to open the book. The next thing a potential reader is going to do is read the synopsis. Here’s where we begin examining the nuts and bolts. First, is it what a fan of that particular genre looking for? In other words, does it belong on that particular shelf? The human mind classifies things, we sort, organize. Its in our nature. If a reader is looking for a fantasy novel, they don’t stroll into the westerns. As a panelists, that’s important because we strive to get into the minds of readers. And here comes the rub.

Once we know the book belongs on a shelf, then it must stand out from everything else on the shelf. Is it original? Okay, maybe its not original. If so, then it must stand out in terms of quality. The truly excellent synopsis are those that display high quality and are original. It is those books that cross genres and compel the reader to take a look inside.

Third, get them to buy it. That brings us to the sample. When considering a novel as a Pitch Perfect Pick finalists, it is sample that holds the most weight. The criteria is simple - is it well written? Is it going to seal the deal and compel the reader to spend time and money? Think about it, you’re in a book store and have selected a book, read the synopsis and now browse the first page. If it catches your attention, you might take it over to one of the comfy chairs and sit down with it for a while. The same goes for digging into the digital sample. You’ve already made a commitment of sorts. The odds of the reader walking out with the book increase dramatically.

Cover, pitch and sample - the beginning of a beautiful relationship. These are your one big chance to seal the deal with your reader. Make it count. These are the essential elements of a Pitch Perfect Pick finalist.

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