Black Cat Blues Series, Craft, Husbands, Pitching, Promotion, Publicity, Writing Life

My Pitch Card for New York

Front
Front

I spent hours producing one little postcard, but it’s worth every minute I spent, because I’m in love with it. Not that it’s perfect, but that it’s mine.

It’s a “one-sheet” for my manuscript, Black Cat Blues which I’ll take with me when I’m pitching in New York. As you can see, one side has the title my name and the tagline, and the second side has a three paragraph description, a by-line and my website.

flip side
flip side

Phew! For someone as graphically challenged as I am, this was extremely difficult. My laptop almost went through the window several – well three to be exact –  times.  But thanks to help from my husband PJ, my writer/artist friend Judy Hudson  (who wrote me three pages of notes so that I could make my InDesign program work and never gave up on me) and fine editing from my critique partner, I put together something I’m proud of. Which is to say it takes a talented village to get me to produce a 3 by 5 inch card. Then I took it to the printers and John re-sized it for me. (John Vos at Print Three did the printing.)

I outlined it in black before I scanned it  to make it show up better which sort of worked. It’s actually all white.

HookEmGoodThe Tagline

That one sentence on the bottom of the  front was the hardest to nail. My manuscript is now sitting at 77,000 words and rendering its essence into one sentence was brutal.

That’s what a tagline is, a one sentence marketing bite that will make the reader want to read more.  In the UK they call them end lines or straplines, in Italy pay offs, in Belgium baselines and in France signatures. Whatever you call them, they’re damn hard to write. Try sleeping when you have a ten varieties of the same sentence roaming through your head.

Finally, I decided that whatever sentence still kicked around in my head on printing day, would be the one. So for this project, at least, my tagline is: The dying man’s last words threaten her life. I’d prefer to have some irony embedded in it, but at least I captured some intrigue.

Famous taglines from Tagline Guru include:

“The ultimate trip”     Space Odyssey 2001

“In space no one can hear you scream.”     Alien

“Eight legs, two fangs, and an attitude.”     Arachnophobia

“They’re young…they’re in love…and they kill people.     Bonnie and Clyde

My next step:

Develop a logline and variations of a solid pitch (i.e., one story, two story…high rise elevator pitches)

Your turn:

Do you have a favorite tagline, or pitch story? Love to hear about it.

24 thoughts on “My Pitch Card for New York

  1. Oh, Jo-Ann, the log line is outstanding! I so want to read the book from that one line! You’re rocking it. And you even won the technology battle!
    You know me, using fewer words is such a challenge. I spent the morning massaging the blurb to go on the back of a bookmark for next week’s RomCon. It’s a really tough job, but you really nailed this and the graphics and stuff. I personally think you need to share the card with others, don’t just use it as a cheat sheet for you. Good, good work.
    Oh, for a story. The first time I went to a conference to pitch to an agent–a good 5 years ago now. I had two pages double spaced! Fortunately, some of the folks in my writing chapter told me I needed to shorten it, by like 4/5ths. LOL Well, I worked all night and think I came up with something right at a page. Jeez, I cut the thing in half! LOL It’s really only been in the last year, I was able to pitch a little pitch. Ah, the joys and trials of being a writer. In my mind one of the biggest trials is that log line!

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    1. Hey Marsha
      Thank you. It’s like my big unveiling. I really appreciate the positive feedback. You rock. My plan is to leave a card with each agent I pitch to. But I know from my experience at the Nationals last year, some don’t want to take anything. We’ll see. At least I’m prepared.
      Bookmarks. Oh dear that sounds hard. Can’t wait to hear about RomCon.
      Again, thanks for stopping by and being so supportive.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

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    1. Joanna
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Coming from you, a well-established writer – they blow me away.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

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  2. I adore your kitty-cat. Your tagline is excellent. I have a friend who’s a genius at them. She cooked up “Instant family: just add daughter” for me. I bless the day I met that gal. Pitches are such agony. But then, with a little tweaking, you can use them as the blurb for query letters. So it’s time well-spent. Good luck in NY. Fingers, toes, and bra straps crossed for you. 🙂

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    1. Hi Joan
      I’ll remember the tip on query letters. And thanks for your well wishes.
      It’s all so daunting. But fun.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

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  3. Love your card, Jo-Ann! Yes, these short bites of our stories *are* damn hard to write. I just threw out my blurb and started fresh tonight. So, so many things to think about besides writing the book! Wishing you good mojo with your pitch! Knock it out of the park!! 🙂

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    1. Misty
      Thanks. I like the image of hitting it out there.
      Good luck with your re-write. The next one’s always better.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

      Like

  4. I love the card, the pitch, and the cat! I totally agree that the tag line is the hardest part of the book to write. Good luck with your pitch! You’ll do great! I’m betting the agents keep your card to remember you by!

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  5. It’s gorgeous, Jo-Ann! You nailed it! (And my compliment should rate, because I’m a book designer LOL!). Well worth your time and effort. Agreed, taglines, branding, the one-sentence pitch are soooo tough. Good luck in New York!

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    1. Hi Jenna
      Thank you.
      I’m tucking away your kind praise in my heart to give me the gumption to pitch, pitch and then pitch some more at Thrillerfest. What a business!
      Best
      Jo-Ann

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  6. Jo-Ann, this is a terrific idea and is bound to impress. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I love the Brother XII hook! One suggestion: be prepared to have a very short summary of who Brother XII is. A Canadian publisher (especially of a certain age) might well know, but a US one might not – and the fact that he’s a real, not fictional, character (and such a bizarre one) makes your story line even stronger.

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    1. Hi Susan
      Thanks for the tip. Brother XII is not easy to fit into a few words, so I’m going with your suggestion. I’ll develop a short summary for him.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

      Like

      1. I think Susan is right, Jo-Ann. I didn’t recognize the name and just assumed a fictional character. That he was/is real makes the story-line even more interesting. You should be smiling really big right now. We’ve heaped a lot of well-deserved praise on you.

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      2. Hi Marsha
        Definitely smiling. Sharing the card before I pitch helps my confidence.
        A couple of my published chapter mates sent me suggestions (on our loop) for tweaking the card which I’ll use for sure. Little stuff that will make a difference like adding a ‘ after lovin. It’s all a process.
        Thanks for coming by again.
        Best
        Jo-Ann

        Like

  7. Oh Jo-Ann! So polished and yet full of dark foreboding. The card is a masterpiece. You have tweaked it some more and it really beckons the reader to get hold of a copy to read – now!. I’m sure the editors will be impressed.

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