At this year’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, writer and speaker Linda Rohrbaugh gave a fantastic presentation on how to pitch your book. With her permission, I am sharing here her three step formula for crafting a great book pitch—which she created after years of listening to how best-selling authors pitch their books.
I’ll give you a hint: despite what you may hear to the contrary, they don’t use a single-sentence log line.
Step 1: The First Log Line
The first log line is what we usually hear about: a single sentence that includes the following:
- The hero
- The hero’s flaw
- The life-changing event that starts the story
- The opponent
- The ally
- The battle or conflict
This, Linda says, is a great place to begin your pitch: it sums up the basic story elements. For example, the log line for 50 First Dates could be
A womanizer veterinarian falls in love with a girl with short-term memory loss.
Step 2: The Second Log Line
However, when a best-selling author describes their book, they almost never stop with that first sentence. Instead, they add what Linda has dubbed the “second log line.”
The second log line includes:
- The character who arcs (or changes)
- And what that arc or change is
Using 50 First Dates again, the second log line would be something like this:
His challenge is to win her heart anew every day.
Step 3: The Third Log Line
Step 3 is to add a sentence about the book’s theme. What does the character learn? How does he or she change? From 50 First Dates:
He learns that the fun, for him, is in the chase.
I think that examples—and trying the process for yourself—are key to learning how to use Linda’s formula to create your own book pitch. You can find more examples in her new iPhone app Pitch Your Book (which is, gotta say, pretty amazing). Do you struggle with crafting the perfect pitch? You might find this app helpful.