Seven Lessons learnt from editors, Sam Eades and Emma Smith of Orion Publishing

Notes from Tuesday’s event with Sam and Emma: using examples of published books, they gave our members some vital lessons into pitching, concepts, ambition, themes etc. 


Lesson Number One – WHAT IS THE PITCH?

  • Take a look at the above book, DISCLAIMER, what is the log line? Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you?
  • Logline – what is the book about?
  • Read SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder for tips on pitches
  • Tell the story in miniature
  • Think about how it relates to the title
  • Follow the agent, Juliet Mushens, on Twitter: @mushenska for insight into how she pitches her books (and for her secret formula)


Lesson Number Two – BE AMBITIOUS

  • Five narrative voices
  • A blend of first and third person
  • A narrow time frame and a broad time frame
  • Change of perception
  • Twist doesn’t need to come at the end
  • The life story of each and every character offers encyclopaedic possibilities. The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but gives us a lifetime.’

Lesson number three – WHAT IS YOUR THEME/MESSAGE

Take a look at these examples:


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Think about what the theme is in your book?


Lesson number four – MAKE IT PRIMAL

  • there are age old stories that really work – and often the most successful books are those that follow those old stories
  • think about the following: overcoming the monster, the quest, rags to riches, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy and rebirth
  • does your story follow one of these?

Lesson number five – A GOOD IDEA

  • for non-fiction books, it is essential that your book is based on a good idea
  • think about your BRAND


  • Letters of Note began life as a blog, an awareness was achieved before the book – and it has lead on to events and a true brand.

Lesson number six – ORIGINALITY

  • sometimes a book will be a surprise bestseller – it comes from originality


Lesson number seven – EXPERTISE/PERSPECTIVE

  • the above example was written by an expert
  • sales grew through word of mouth and it has had long term success
  • beautiful writing must always support an expert’s standing
  • and remember to think about a new perspective – what hasn’t been written yet about your chosen subject?



And finally, a PS: books to read about writing

SAVE THE CAT! by Blake Synder

INTO THE WOODS by John Yorke

THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS by Christopher Brooker




ON WRITING by Stephen King



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