Please help me in welcoming our guest today, the fabulous Gini Koch. I have to be careful to not go all fangirl on folks here as she’s my favorite author mainly because of her accessibility. We met at a conference when we went head to head in a published author’s contest. We became fast friends, talk as much as possible on the net and she sends me all her books here in Vienna.
One of the greatest things about Gini is her belief in log lines and how they helped sell her books to NYC and get an agent. Gini, take it away...
One of the smartest things I ever did while trying to find an agent and get book contracts was to work up log lines for everything I was pitching. Why? Because they work. And they work fast.
What is a Log Line?
A log line is a Hollywood term for the one-sentence, high-level description of a script or an idea. It’s been adopted by the publishing industry as well, and works exactly the same way.
Why do you need one?
Publishing is a business, with professionals working in it. Business professionals are prepared. They are succinct and to the point. And one of the key aspects of this business is that said professionals expect you to be prepared and professional as well. Part of that is having a log line ready for every MS you might pitch -- including those you’re still working on.
I like to have what is, in essence, three log lines -- Hollywood, Comparison, and Expanded. Hollywood uses movies or TV shows, because they’re more easily identifiable to the majority of people. Comparison is more publishing focused, to show that you understand your targeted readers. Expanded is the hook, the fuller story that shows how your Hollywood and Comparison log lines will play out.
I teach authors how to come up with these, but under the constraints of the medium, I’m going to give examples only.
Touched by an Alien
Hollywood: Men in Black crossed with True Lies
Comparison: Those who enjoy Janet Voinovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series or the works of Christopher Moore will enjoy Touched by an Alien.
Expanded: Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt joins forces with gorgeous aliens from Alpha Centauri to protect the Earth, kick evil alien butt, and save the day with hairspray and rock and roll - not necessarily in that order.
Alexander Outland: Space Pirate
Hollywood: Han Solo meets Pirates of the Caribbean
Comparison: Those who enjoy The Stainless Steel Rat and the works of John Scalzi will enjoy Alexander Outland: Space Pirate
Expanded: Trouble’s brewing out in space, and Alexander Outland -- the least likely hero in the galaxy -- and his eccentric crew have to save the day, despite the fact they’d prefer to take the money and run.
The Night Beat
Hollywood: Ghostbusters and Time Bandits crossed with Training Day
Comparison: Those who enjoy the paranormal fantasy of Jennifer Estep and the humor and world building of Terry Pratchett will enjoy The Night Beat.
Expanded: A routine patrol for undercover cop and werewolf Victoria Wolfe, turns into an epic battle between the undead forces of good against the Prince of Darkness’ most powerful lieutenants and his Army of Evil -- the outcome of which is dependent upon Victoria’s abilities to guess what fallen angel Lucifer set in motion centuries earlier.
Do these work? Well, I hooked my agent on Touched by an Alien using my Comparison log line, and had her asking for an exclusive when I gave her the Expanded log line. We sold Alexander Outland by using the Hollywood log line. Call me crazy, but I call that working.
Put the time into crafting excellent log lines, and you’ll get it back tenfold.
Gini Koch lives in Hell’s Orientation Area (aka Phoenix, AZ), works her butt off (sadly, not literally) by day, and writes by night with the rest of the beautiful people. She writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series for Night Shade Books. She also writes under a variety of other pen names (including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch), listens to rock music 24/7, and is a proud comics geek-girl willing to discuss at any time why Wolverine is the best superhero ever (even if Deadpool does get all the best lines). She speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business.
Reach Gini at:
Her website: www.ginikoch.com
The Blah, Blah, Blah Blog: http://ginikoch.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fan Page, Hairspray and Rock ‘n’ Roll: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hairspray-and-Rock-n-Roll-Kicking-Evil-Alien-Butt-since-2010-GINI-KOCH/247377348018
Official Fan Site, Alien Collective Virtual HQ: http://aliencollectivehq.com/