Help Desk: Book Reviews / Manuscript Beta Readers

When my daughters were toddlers, my mother would remind me

“No one thinks a precocious baby is cute except her parents.”

Nothing could be further away from the truth because my baby girls were adorable!

Ok, her point was others wouldn’t be as fascinated with my children as I am…and she was correct.

The same can be said for authors and their books and manuscripts.

There are very few people outside of a circle of loved ones (and when it comes to manuscripts maybe not even them) who want to read and review an unsolicited manuscript.

In fact, in an unscientific poll, undergoing a root canal would rank higher but you can turn the odds in your favor.

I’m going to let you in on a secret; the story pitch is the freelance journalist’s key to steady work. Writing one good pitch to an editor can lead to a lot of work and if done right it will open doors for you too.

review my book
review my book

Done right means in 400 words or less, tell the proposed reviewer, book club acquisition manager, or even an undercover literary agent why s/he should read your book.

Without further ado, here’s the format:

Title: Goldilocks and the 3 bears

Word Count: 863

Genre: Black comedy

Age Group:  New Adult (18-24)

Logline: (1-2 sentences – Who is the protagonist. What challenge is she facing/who is the antagonist? How does she hope to overcome the challenge?)   “A fair hair femme fatale squatting in an empty home must vacate the premises before the owners, 3 bears just up after a long winter’s nap, return.”

Synopsis: Open with a compelling lede. Show through your words how well you know your genre.  Discuss how the reader benefits from the reading the story.

Learn the 7 warning signs you’re about enter a bear’s lair. How to survive a bear encounter while sleeping.”

Who are the main characters? What is their motivation? Where is the story set? When is the time of the story? How is the story structured include story style; voice and tone; what if any are the major themes and what does the writer hope to communicate to the audience.

The Why is left out so they’ll want to read it.

If a popular social influencer has reviewed your book or wrote the foreword let the world know!

Bio – Include a short bio towards the end of your pitch that illustrates credibility and most important your social landscape (blogs, social and professional networking accounts especially if you have large following.  Tell the prospective reviewer why you’re uniquely qualified to write this story.  What’s your familiarity with the subject matter? Are you a bear expert? Veterinarian?  Include your vocation and find an angle to make it relevant to your writing.  Include your publishing history; major brand trade publishing; self-publishing.  If you’ve sold a large number units (verifiable) let the reviewer know. Include your book and writing awards.

Conclude by letting the prospect know your manuscript/book is complete.   Tell them it’s available in digital/print/audio format that you will send upon request.

Once you’re finish, do one more re-write.    Remember you’re a storyteller so make your pitch conversational so it will sing!  Now everyone will want to coddle your baby.

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