Category Archives: Sales

Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 3

It’s time for the next edition of our seven-part series on pitching your book with Diane Holmes, where she helps talk you through some of the potential issues you may run across when trying to bring your work to print.

Today’s issue:

#3 “You’re putting lipstick on a bulldog.”

Translation: “You’ve gone to a lot of effort to pretty up a bad idea, make a blue-collar idea seem hoity-toity, or take a meat-and-potatoes idea and make it into caviar.   And I am not fooled.”

Reality: Your efforts to make your book’s hook, idea, or premise (the bulldog) exciting and BIG are transparent.  Agents and Editors are on to you, and it’s kinda insulting that you think they’d fall for that.

Solution:  What’s wrong with a plain ol’ bulldog?   By trying to take something and fool people into thinking it’s what it’s not, you miss out on both accounts.  At this point, the listener doesn’t want the plain bulldog or the fancy bulldog.

You must be passionate about what your book is really about.  And when you look for your book’s unique hook, look for something that is essential, captivating, and authentic.

Diane Holmes
Diane Holmes

Diane Holmes is the Founder and Chief Alchemist behind Pitch University, an online website where writers learn to pitch from the literary agents and editors (and maybe even sell their book in the process).

And yes, she was born in Texas.

Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 2

Today we continue our seven-part series on pitching your book with Diane Holmes, where she helps talk you through some of the potential pitfalls you may encounter when trying to bring your work to print.

Part 2 is:

#2 “Son, I think you brought a knife to a gun fight.”

Translation: “There’s a basic understanding about what we’re going to do today, but  you didn’t get the gunfighter’s memo.  Whew, kinda embarrassing.  Next time you need to bring the big (mental) guns and put away that butter knife.”

Reality: When agents and editors take pitches, they’re expecting to meet at a peer level.  They’re the industry pro; you’re the writing pro.  This means you’ve done your homework on book writing, pitching, and how this whole publishing industry-thing works.

When you haven’t become an expert on your part of the equation or don’t have a solid idea about what the other side does, it shows.

Of course, even when you’ve done this, you’re likely to feel nervous during a pitch.   That’s actually not a problem.  But not taking the time to thoroughly understand your genre, publishers’ needs, how agents work, what goes into a pitch….  That’s on you. Continue reading Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 2

Dealing with Ridiculous Client Expectations

By Jake Poinier

Earlier this week, I received a freelance referral from a previous client for a web project — and an object lesson in dealing with ridiculous client expectations.

Nice guy, we got along swimmingly. We went through the sitemap for the new, improved website, I asked my usual rotation of questions, and it seemed like a good match of their needs and my background.

Then, about a half-hour into the conversation, he mentioned that my referral contact had thought the price would be around $1000.

I must have raised my eyebrows halfway up my forehead, because he quickly backpedaled and said something to the effect of, “Now, keep in mind, he had just thrown a number out. I’m a numbers guy, and just wanted to let you know my expectations.”

I resisted the urge to run screaming from the room, knowing there was no way $1000 was going to be even close for a 20-odd page site. We wrapped up the meeting in businesslike fashion and shook hands. I told him I’d crunch the numbers and have an estimate for him the following day.

When I crunched those numbers, they indicated a cost of around triple what he was expecting. I sent the bid anyway, with a mention that I realized the estimate was far higher than he was anticipating. Perhaps not surprisingly, my phone has not rung. But you know, I’m OK with that.

Besides the need to reject lowball freelance work, there’s another lesson in here: You should never, ever try to estimate the cost of someone else’s services. My previous client, in an effort to be helpful, had established a mark that would be impossible to hit, even if my rate was half of what it is. The best course of action is always to let your fellow creatives do their own math — or things aren’t likely to add up.

Jake Poinier busted out of his corporate chains to become a freelance writer and editor in 1999. He runs Boomvang Creative Group and blogs regularly as Dr. Freelance.

Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 1

I’m excited to announce that we are going to have a seven-part series here on about how to pitch your book. Diane Holmes, founder of Pitch University, has signed on to share some great tips on avoiding the negative response to your book pitch. Today we have a short intro to what she will be sharing with us, along with the first tip–enjoy!    – Catherine

Listen up.  I’m gonna tell you How the Cows Ate the Cabbage….

As founder of Pitch University (and Texan, which explains colorful expressions), my goal is to help writers (and I am including myself in this!) become excellent at answering the hardest question people ask us: “What’s your book about?”

“Heck, if we could sum it up,” we writers want to snap, “we would’ve written a Post-It Note, not a book!”   (We’re just witty that way.)

What we don’t say is that, after we’ve written hundreds of pages, and poured our heart and soul into the complexities of our stories and topics, there simply are no easy answers.

Yet, without the ability to answer this basic question, we can’t sell our books.

This is called pitching our books.  And it’s the same skill we use when we answer the question for anyone, including agents, editors, readers, friends, family, the media, librarians, booksellers, truly anyone at all.

So it’s important to our careers.  Knowing this, we feel the stress of getting it right.   Frankly, most writers don’t, and they really don’t know what went wrong.

When you look closely, there are really two hurdles when pitching:  ourselves and others (let’s call them agents and editors).  Today, I’m taking a humorous look at the firsts of 7 possible responses that agents and editors can give us when our pitching misses the mark.  There are other tell-tale signs your pitch isn’t working, but understanding these 7 will give you a leg up on your next pitch..

Read on to see if you recognize yourself. Continue reading Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 1

Increase response rates by customizing your query

By Jake Poinier

Coming into the final week of gathering participants for the annual Freelance Forecast, I emailed a few creative agencies specializing in freelancers to see if they’d be willing to send the surveys to clients and/or freelancers. In all honesty, the response was underwhelming. But there was one person (from Hire-Profile in Atlanta) who responded to my query brimming with enthusiasm about sharing the survey and the results within her network.

As we spoke on the phone and traded business histories, I asked her what had made her call me back. Her answer was instructive: Basically, she gets a lot of emails from people soliciting contact names and such, but she could tell that I’d put time into reading her website and making my email personal.

It was a reminder, above all, that you can’t let expedience get in the way of tailoring your message if you have a specific objective. In my case, I wasn’t trying to solicit a freelance job from her, but rather trying to get her to take some time to spread my survey around. As you can imagine, it’s even more critical if you’re actually trying to convince someone that you’re worthy of being hired and paid to do something.

Bottom line, customizing a query isn’t just about changing the name and publication or business category. It takes an investment in understanding what the prospect values — not just what you want to tell them. There’s a place in every freelancer’s arsenal for bigger, broadcast email campaigns, but you need to know when the surgical strike is the correct approach. It requires effort to have your message stand out…and if you don’t, you might be in danger of “Garbage out, garbage in.”

Contributing blogger Jake Poinier is the owner of Boomvang Creative Group, and blogs regularly at his Dr. Freelance blog.

GuideGecko: Write Travel Guide Apps


Today on Freelance-Zone we have a special treat–GuideGecko Founder, Daniel Quadt is here to walk readers through the process of writing a travel guide app. Be sure and check out their site–it’s a great resource.               – Catherine

1. GuideGecko has a new offering for writers—a travel guide app. Can you tell us a little about what that is and how it works? 

Writers can now publish iPhone travel guide apps with GuideGecko, and sell them through Apple’s app store. You simply enter your content using our super-easy website and we’ll do the rest. The apps look really good, and they are tailor-made for travel guides. They even feature offline maps so users do not incur hefty roaming charges when using them abroad. Take a look at for some screenshots.

Hotels_Sleeping_Screenshot2. Are there any particular requirements for writers?

You should know your topic and have a very good command of English. It helps if you have written or contributed to travel books or online guides before, but it’s not a requirement.

3. Why did you decide to move in this direction in terms of offering travel writing content?

Apps are an extension of our existing services for writers and publishers. Since our launch in March 2009, we have published over 200 guidebooks by independent authors, as printed books and for download. Apps allow us to create much more interactive, appealing products with advanced features. For example, with the app, you can easily check for nearby restaurants when you are hungry. Or you use the interactive map to plan your itinerary.

Photos4. What other opportunities do you have for writers?

Another exciting service that we launch together with apps is “Web publishing”, which allows writers to become part of our network of destination sites. You can earn a substantial income with destination sites through ads and booking links, and we share this income with our writers.

It’s very easy: You suggest a destination and a topic, e.g. “New York on a Budget” or “Paris with Kids” and publish your content on We promote the individual sub-sites and the network as a whole, leading to synergies that are very difficult and time consuming to achieve for individual authors. Just think of all the Search Engine Optimization you would have to do to bring in visitors! It’s much easier to attract visitors to a large site, and the network effect naturally leads more visitors to the individual sub-sites.

Web publishing is also ideal for writers who know their topic, but don’t want to bother about site structure, HTML+CSS, layout, Adsense, and so on. We manage all that, and writers can concentrate on what they know (and like) best.

Even better: If you want to do Web publishing and iPhone apps together, you have to enter the content only once. We can use the same content for apps and for the web.

5. How can people find out more information about writing for GuideGecko?

Simply go to This page has all the info, and you can apply for web publishing and to make an app.