The first thing they teach in art school is that a masterpiece will sell itself. This is the most untrue statement ever made. Now, it's hard to argue, especially as a writer, whether you have a masterpiece on your hand, but rest assure, no one is going to find you accidentally. No worries, though, here are 3 things you can do to increase your chances of selling an idea, and it works even if you're not an artist.
3. The Perfect Pitch
Before we continue, it's worth spending the two minutes and forty-five seconds it takes to hear Danny Strong out. He's been on screen and behind the camera, and in 2008 he solidified himself as a screenwriter with the movie Recount.
I stand with Strong's opinion. First off, you're name is crucial as a writer, but it won't sell a story alone. Take for example a name like Stephen King. The myth is that he doesn't even need to pitch a story; publishers simply send it out. While I have no evidence to prove he does pitch his stories - at least within the last five years or so - I would argue he still needs a good pitch or hook.
See, King gets paid way more than most of us. His advances are insane, really. But that's also some pressure for King. For his paychecks to come in, he cannot risk being paid more than his novels bring in through revenue. His last name might grab your attention, but he really has to deliver a great pitch to make you consider buying a $30 novel.
In Hollywood, a great story is a wonderful place to start, but can you convince someone it's worth the millions of dollars that'll go into pre-, production, post-, and marketing? Can you also sell an audience on the idea? See, a good story is fantastic, but books and movies are expensive. You can sample a book or movie, but it's gotta have a strong pitch to convince thousands or millions of people to drop their hard earn money.
Strong has a 35-minute presentation, which is rare because producers, publishers, and all the other big wigs do not have the time to hear you out. Every second lost is a lot of money not made. If you treat your work like any other product, you have to wonder What makes me want to buy, see, or read things? Whatever the answer is, try practicing some pitches on your more curmudgeon of friends.
You might have to be overly descriptive. You might have to be simplistic. No matter what, you have to be clever. You have to make someone want to hear the next sentence of your pitch as well as watch your presentation. If you're lucky enough to meet face-to-face, make it a real show.
And if you're lucky enough to meet face-to-face, consider the next point:
It doesn't matter what you're trying to sell. You have to build a strong report.
In some cases, this means you have 30 seconds to make someone trust or believe in what you're doing as well as your capabilities. The idea might be terrific, the writing or whatever might be eloquent, but you have to make someone believe in you as much as you do yourself.
Like anything else in life, there aren't many shortcuts. At one of my old day jobs, we had to upsale, upsale, upsale. This meant pitching an idea - even if you didn't believe in it - so well someone else purchased the product as result of receiving what sound like good advice. The beauty is, if you actually believe in a product, then you have a hell of a head start. However, you have one major disadvantage. If you ramble without making the vision 100% clear, you're done.
Now this next example applies more to men, but I hope everyone can see my point. If someone asks you how they look, you have to answer. Moreover, you have to make whoever believe you think they're absolutely stunning.
In the case someone is beautiful and you can tell they really, really tried to look good, you can't leave them with, "Yeah, you look great." The best way to send the true message across (assuming you do believe they're beautiful) is to show them things from your eyes without going overboard. Construct your thoughts and deliver the truest, deepest line you can without sounding like a schmoozer or a cliche abuser. Build a story.
For creative types, the pitch is difficult but shouldn't be the difference of success. You might be terrible at talking in person, but just stick with what you know. Practice it. The story might sound stellar, but you only have about 20 words to get someone interested. You must create the story for the story or any other product. If someone is contemplating buying an instrument make them envision themselves strumming it, the sound, the feel, the look. If they're vain, make them think of the groupies, the stages, the money, how they'll look, and so on. Show them something's true potential as well as yours.
The story before the story is the trust factor. Once you've built some report, you can strike. That sounds harsh, but you can see how the pitch and the report go hand-in-hand. You still might consider one more piece of my unwarranted advice . . . .
1. Be Yourself
I've used the word product a lot in this post, but remember that's how you sell something. We all know at heart that our work is part of who we are. And selling doesn't mean you're money hungry; it just means you want to spread and idea or creation. For writers, it's really nice to be read. To be read you need to build an audience. To expand your audience you need to reach out. To reach out even further you need to have a producer, publisher, or someone with a lot of money. To get them to invest in your idea, you have to promise them money in return.
We live in a parasocial society. This means we idolize others, especially celebrities. We know more about them than they'll ever learn about us. And if they weren't used to it, it would be damn creepy.
Don't fake it. Be organic. Just remember you need to shine, so show them how not only the product is amazing, but you are also equally amazing.
You Might Also Enjoy:
The Importance of Being Organic
All Things Beautiful
The Art of the Hollywood Pitch
The Mindset of a Good Writer
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.