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The real work of writing

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

We write and write and write, and then someone asks the dreaded question… ‘so what is your book about?’ ​What happens? You stammer and gush and say something – or anything. This is not an unexpected question, umm right? ​

We recently hosted a publisher at a pitch session and allowed some authors to pitch. This is such a stressful time for an author. Not only are you put on the spot and have to sum up your book in one tight paragraph, but you have to do it verbally. Writers are not Hollywood agents and so this is a lot of pressure. I do this all the time as an agent pitching books. I usually have an entire list on my phone in my notes. But I want each author to write me a tight and catchy one-liner. Then, when the publisher asks which books I have that may fit their upcoming book list, I will select a few to mention and read them off. With a smile! No matter how many hours you have spent writing, editing, and thinking – it all really comes down to the final few words that sum up your entire book. I don’t want you to leave this to chance. You need to do the work to have all these small elements that make up your book written down. Write and craft things like your back cover blurb, your working title, your one-liner that describes your book. You will end up using them all. Do these early in the game. Not only do these pieces of writing focus you, but they are the things you will rest on when someone corners you next time with the dreaded question (and a very short attention span) – ‘what’s your book about?’ It may sound as short as this one. "This is an addiction memoir about a top CEO’s decade-long journey of booze, sex and finally finding sobriety." Or as long as this one. Calling the Money is a personal development process that will help people to release their hidden barriers to success so they can finally attract wealth—even when they feared it would never happen for them. It marrying psychologically sound metaphysical principles and leading-edge transformational technologies with the law of attraction to create a holistic, systematic approach that will melt away old painful patterns and make you magnetic to money. Challenge! Write your logline today Write a few paragraphs that capture your book idea. You can imagine that it slips out of your notebook and falls into the street. Later, a stranger picks it up and takes it home to read. What impression will your letter make on this stranger? This piece of writing captures your main idea or question, your main character, the conflict they’re going to face and the stakes if they lose. This is a short and high-level concept. This sentence utilises puns or clever wording to intrigue the reader. It should make them want to read the book or learn more. It often teases the reader or poses a question to them. There is no formula. Just make your best effort for now. Some people claim that log lines should be less than twenty-five words long. I don’t think publishers and agents sit there counting the number of words in your log line, I think they want to understand the core story. Novel writers - I also have a great formula I like you to use In novels you must have a main character, a goal, and the source of conflict. How to write an incredible back cover blurb or How to write a query letter

We just got back from a spectacular writing retreat in Lamu, a magical island off Kenya in East Africa. Join me in Cape Town 2021, Italy, or Greece to write.

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