Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 27, 2014

Amazon Breakout Tips – Help Betsy Devany


The Photo above was taken by Betsy Devany at The New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival. Betsy has a chance of winning if you vote for her. Please send an email to: and include your vote, with the number of the photo and corresponding captain. Betsy’s is #3 Mirror, Mirror.  (Two girls dancing in red kilts.)Voting closes on February 7th Click here to see the other photos.

Lauren SalemFinal Cover-BlackI thought Lauren Salem’s blog post with tips on how to work on your pitch your story for the Amazon Breakthrough YA Novel Contest might help you prepare,  so here is an excerpt that includes the six steps.

Lauren has written Reunion at Walnut Cherryville. It received Third Prize in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. **Professionally edited by an Amazon CreateSpace editor** The ebook is available for free at these eBook retailers:

Amazon Kindle




Seems like a no brainer to go over and grab the book. I just did, because I have found so many wonderful new authors this way and they have secured a new reader who will buy their next book. Check it out.

Here are six things I suggest you do first before really cracking down on that pitch.

1. The Synopsis: An 80% Reduction

When I finish writing a chapter, I create a chapter summary, which is like writing a book report.  This involves rereading the chapter, taking note of details that are pivotal to the main plot, sub-plots or characters.  I also list unanswered questions posed in the chapter that will need to be addressed later because this will eventually reveal plot holes and other inconsistencies in the manuscript.  Creating chapter summaries was the first step I took towards making my pitch because they became my outline, or synopsis, for the entire book.  Through this process, I reduced a 400 page book into 20 pages.  Click here to see the chapter 1 summary below from Reunion at Walnut Cherryville to get tips and view the process in action.

2. Remember, math is not for novelists.

Since the synopsis had driven my book down to its most important points, I thought writing the pitch would be peachy…I guessed wrong.  I ended up rewriting my pitch five times until I developed the 180 word combo that won third prize in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.  If you’re keeping track of the math, I’ve just reduced 20 pages down to 1/3 of a page..ta-dah!  There is no exact formula for how to write the best pitch and I’ve seen it done in infinite ways.  After scouring the internet for examples, I found hidden details encrypted in clouds of creative fluff.

3. Express the originality of your book idea indirectly.

Every book has its own identity, so I wouldn’t compare my book to another or say “it’s different because…”  I showed how my story was unique through my perspective, while allowing room for readers to make their own inferences and comparisons to other things they’ve read.

4. Define your target audience.

When reading a pitch, you should be able to tell which audience it appeals to solely on the main character’s demographics, challenges and themes.  Without stating it, I targeted the young adult audience by making my main character a high school student who is tasked with making difficult decisions future.  It’s important to focus on discussing conflicts, challenges and life lessons that are relatable to your target audience.

5. Imply your genre and theme.

Use descriptive language to suggest your book’s genre and a theme will emerge based on that language.  In Reunion at Walnut Cherryville, speaking about intolerable governments suggests the book is dystopian themed with a hint of western (due to roots of an ancient family feud) and general science fiction (futuristic produce factory located in a desert).

6. Set the stage for the reader.

Introduce the main characters, plot, conflict, and “take home message.”  State or give an idea about where and when the book takes place.  Don’t reveal all your secrets, just enough to spark interest and curiosity about the book.  Click here to see the breakdown of my pitch as an example.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks for the mention, Kathy! It’s an honor just being a finalist, and taking photos at the event was a blast. I love capturing motion in photography.


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