Pitching Your Sequel (or Threequel)
Writing the back-cover copy for your book (also known as your pitch) can be hard. Summarizing a 60,000-70,000 (or more) novel in three or four paragraphs? Besides titles and character names, pitches may be the worst (psstt, Christine at Better Novel Project has a fabulous post on the process).
If you think the first book is hard, the second one isn’t going to be a lot easier. Why? You have to connect book one to book two, but not give any major spoilers. To show you, I’m going to use the back-cover copy for Double Played to show you how I’ve constructed mine.
Six months after Cassie Morgan faced The Assassin, it’s time for her to get back to work. After a break from the FBI, Cassie arrives to find her first assignment: the death of her former informant, Maria Floures.
In order to bring justice to Floures, Cassie is assigned to work with a group of DEA agents investigating a drug ring that has ties to Floures and the man suggested of murdering her. One of those DEA agents is Seth Edwards, a man who recently stood Cassie up on a blind date.
While she tries to ignore the tension between her and Seth, the two must work closely together when Seth goes undercover to infiltrate the drug group tied to Floures. Once he’s in, Cassie realizes that this group may be connected to more than just Floures. As they peel back the structure of the drug ring, Cassie realizes a figure from her past is at the head of it, and Cassie may have just been double played.
If you look at my pitch, there’s only really one sentence that talks about the first book. I only mention the first book once, because of spoilers. It’s also all I need to effectively tie what has happened to Cassie since book one and into book two.
Book three, however, is much more connected to the first book than the second book is. I only have a little bit of the pitch done, but here’s what I have so far.
Fourteen months ago, Cassie Morgan faced The Assassin. Now it’s time for her justice on him: the trial. It’s the trial of the year, if not the decade, and Cassie knows she’ll be telling the world a few lies when she testifies.
One bombshell confession on the stand is soon forgotten when a woman shows up murdered near the courthouse. All signs point to The Assassin murdering again, but he has the perfect alibi: his trial.
The key to really creating a successful pitch is to stick with what you know. Most of your book’s back-cover copy should be about that book. Really all you need to include about the original book is what is relevant to the sequel.
You have a limited amount of time to keep people engaged with your pitch (basically if you have a boring hook, they may not make it to the good part of your pitch. Your book doesn’t need more than a little bit of information for books past. Stick with one or two sentences about what’s happened in the past, and write the rest as a brand new book!