Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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Author Tools Then And Now

by Carol Burnside

THEN:  A few years ago, authors sought out the best methods to build an enticing pitch, elevator pitch, a synopsis and query letters. We honed our “elevator pitches,” so called in case we ran into an editor in an elevator and needed to pitch in mere seconds. We learned how to boil down the essence of our book into two pages, how to hook with just the flavor of it in a query. Some authors still pitch as we did then, still looking for traditional publication. Some do their pitches via online submissions to digital first publishers. But a lot of authors are turning, either partially or completely, to the Indie market.

NOW:  These days the Indie author is still using his/her pitching skills, but our focus has changed. We’re pitching the book to buyers, the readers. Talents we developed are still in play, just in different ways. A mini synopsis is our book description without giving away the ending, the pitch is our backcover blurb, the elevator pitch our logline or caption under a cover ad. Some retail sites want no more than 4000 characters as our description (including spaces), others less. Even online, ad space is at a premium and requires as little as 20 words.

In addition to the old skills we continue to hone, the independently published author must learn to hire publishing services done such as editing and cover art and formatting of e-files for uploading or learn to do them competently. It’s an interesting time in publishing and there are new things to learn every day.

If you’re an author, what new skills have you learned lately?

If you’re a reader, what differences have you noticed, if any, in the books of today?

[…] how the times have changed. I’m on Petit Fours and Hot Tamales today talking about Author Tools Then and Now. Click the link, come on over and join in the […]

Marilyn Baron - May 5, 2014 - 7:17 am

That’s a very interesting point that authors use the same skills to get published traditionally as they can to promote their indie work. I agree. There are always new communications outlets to learn about and utilize. At our Booksigning this weekend someone brought up Instagram and I haven’t investigated that channel.

Connie Gillam - May 5, 2014 - 8:17 am

If you’d told me ten years ago I’d be hiring an editor, selecting cover art and using a formatter, I would have laughed and called you nuts. I wasn’t going in that direction.

Well, here I am self publishing my second book. A lot of work but ultimately worth it.

Piper - May 5, 2014 - 9:22 am

Yes, Connie, I was in that place this time last year. My views on this, and the way that the industry is going forward have changed. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine told me that she was glad that I was rejected by trad publishing because my covers would not have looked so good if someone had signed me to a contract! I’m looking forward to what this new opportunity brings.

Walt Mussell - May 5, 2014 - 10:35 am

I’ve never thought about this side of it. Yes, the pitch does become the back cover blurb. I’m in the process of considering an editor. My issue remains the same, though. Do I have the time? With one kid two years away from college and me working full time already, do I have the time to put into it to make me successful as an indie?

Carol Burnside - May 5, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Marilyn, the idea for this post came about as I was attempting to boil down my current WIP into a back cover blurb, then a mini blurb to use on a bookmark I was designing. Suddenly, I realized I was using the same methods I’d utilized to reduce the story into a synopsis, only I was condensing long phrases into short ones, phrases into one descriptor and so on.

Carol Burnside - May 5, 2014 - 3:29 pm

Connie and Piper, I agree. That was me too. I didn’t have any idea I’d be doing this, but I love it and I hate it, depending on the day and task associated. heh, heh

Carol Burnside - May 5, 2014 - 3:33 pm

I won’t lie to you Walt, it is time consuming. Some authors complain about the amount of promo to be done. I think that’s a given, regardless of whether the path chosen is traditional, digital first, small press or indie. However, I do think that authors who’ve been traditionally published first with some success are more successful at indie publishing because they have a built-in audience in their established readers. Something to consider as well.

Marilyn Baron - May 5, 2014 - 4:52 pm


Yes, it’s a love-hate relationship. And the more books you have out, the more time you spend on promoting them, which leaves less time for writing. Aaargh! But you’re right, you always have to promote your own book whether you’re indie or traditionally published, so that part doesn’t really change much.

Maxine Davis - May 5, 2014 - 5:43 pm

Carol, You are so right. I haven’t thought about it in a while. I’m hoping to get a real taste of this later this year. I’ll shout to everyone if/when I do. I enjoyed your post.

Susan Carlisle - May 5, 2014 - 9:37 pm

You have given me food for thought. I’m traditionally published but my pitch has changed some. I’m trying to promote my books, get some new readers excited about them. That still means that I have to sell them and often myself to make that happen. I still you a form of that pitch every time I talk about my books.

Carol Burnside - May 5, 2014 - 11:07 pm

Thanks, Maxine. I’m looking forward to reading your books.

Carol Burnside - May 5, 2014 - 11:10 pm

I’m trying to help you Susan. I’ve been adding your books to some Listopias on Goodreads. Found a new one to add to today. ;-)

One step at a time, one reader at a time!

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