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   Book Review
   Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds
   Author: Michael Hauge
   Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
   Format: Instructional Book (211 pgs.)
   Topic: How to pitch your screenplay or novel

   MSRP: $12.95

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   ISBN No.: 1932907203
   Website: Michael Wiese Productions
   Release Dates: October 1, 2006
   Review Date: September 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Monika DeLeeuw-Taylor

Final Score:

If you're anything like me, you want the quick-and-easy guide to everything; "Five Easy Steps for Selling Your Car", "The Quickest Way to Invest for Retirement", "How to Get Publishers to Read Your Manuscript and Offer You a Book Deal in 60 Seconds Flat"…

As unrealistic as we should all know this is, most of us are still attracted to any product that guarantees fast results for any process that promises to be long, complicated, and aggravating.

And while Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds doesn't promise that a buyer will immediately leap out of their desk to praise your creative genius, it does provide a wealth of information on how to worm your way into actually getting your manuscript read. First, he gives a few page of advice on how to write the screenplay or novel itself, then how to compose a pitch, write a query letter, and get your pitch heard.

This book is very easy to read. Mr. Hauge clearly knows his way around the writing business, and has also done a very good job at organizing this book. I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much (for I'm sure we've all been duped before by books that promise the moon), but in this case I'm the sure the reader will be pleasantly surprised.

I really liked how the author frequently cited a variety of popular movies and novels to illustrate his points, as the reader will mostly likely have seen many of the ones that the author references. I also appreciated how he created a fictional pitch (for what actually sounds like a good story idea) at the beginning of the book, then referred to it continuously throughout. The best screenplay/novel advice books are the ones that keep it simple. I remember reading one book where the author created new story ideas (and rather pathetic ideas, at that) for each point he (or she) was trying to make. This author also referenced obscure movies that I had never seen, and as a result the book turned out to be just a big waste of time. But thankfully there's no danger of time-wastage while reading Selling Your Story.

Depth of Information
For such a small book, the author has managed to pack in a good amount of information. He includes several step-by-step lists, such as The 8 R's of Pitching, The 10 Key Components of a Commercial Story, and The 10 Steps to a Powerful Hit List. These types of lists are very helpful for disorganized people like me, as it puts all the information together in a concise format. The author also gives a detailed explanation, with examples, on how to compose both a pitch and a query letter, as well as advantages and disadvantages of each. He talks about getting heard at "pitch fests," how to make cold calls, establishing rapport with a potential buyer, and - a very important topic - overcoming awkward moments. He lists some print resources, as well as web pages, and suggests using books like The Writer's Market, which is updated yearly. One added feature that I really liked was the inclusion of pitching templates to match several different genres, as well as several pages of advice from real executives on the best and worst pitches they've ever heard.

Attention Captivation
I'll admit, I'm a picky reader. As much as I love to read, if a book doesn't grab my attention within the first few pages, I'm out of there. But I couldn't put down Selling Your Story. The author did a very good job at mixing humor with seriousness. He gave a lot of very good advice, as well as a lot of common-sense tips that most people don't even think about.

For example, one thing that the author keeps reiterating is, when pitching a screenplay or a novel, don't try to tell the whole story. You'll never get it down to five minutes, let alone sixty seconds. And besides, he says, "If you've got a story that can be told in five minutes, you've got a story for a five-minute movie." Very good advice.

The great thing about this book is that it can be used over and over again. Most writers don't plan on publishing one great opus and then leaving the business; we want to keep turning out book after book or screenplay after screenplay. Therefore, we will constantly need to refer to such a book in order to develop pitches and successfully market each project as it comes along. The author even suggests having multiple pitches prepared in case the potential buyer passes on your first idea, in which case you'll most likely find yourself doing a lot of highlighting and page-turning. But of course, practice makes perfect.

Value vs. Cost
Is this book worth the $12.95 price tag? In a word: yes!

For one thing, that's not a very expensive book (maybe an hour or two at work, mowing a lawn, or cleaning out Mom and Dad's basement), and for the prospective writer, it's an invaluable tool. After all, you could have the greatest screenplay since Citizen Kane, or a manuscript that will make you the next Tom Clancy, but if you can't get anyone to read your masterpiece, it won't be good for much of anything other than propping up the uneven leg on the kitchen table.

Probably the most important thing an author can learn is how to sell your work. I'm sure we've all read books that perhaps never should've been published, and it can get infuriating to think, "My manuscript is a hundred times better than that crap! How on earth did this shmuck get his book published?" Well, chances are good that this shmuck had a hell of a pitch. And you didn't. But that's where a book like Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds comes in, of course.

Overall Comment
I was very impressed by this book (If you can't already tell.) Selling and pitching can be such an arduous and stressful task; it's a relief to see that someone with such extensive knowledge has taken the time to compile some good advice in an easy-to-follow format. I definitely recommend this book to any perspective screenwriter or novelist!

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
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The author of half a dozen screen plays, two novels, and a proficient camera-woman in her own right, Monika DeLeeuw-Taylor is Microfilmmaker's lead writing analyst and one of our top film reviewers. When she's not writing a critique for Microfilmmaker, she's writing screenplays for Viking Productions.

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