If you are going to a writers’ conference to pitch a book, here are some “pitching rules” that I discovered in an article by Kerrie Flanagan, the director of the Northern Colorado Writers and a freelance writer.
1) Remember: agents and publishers want to find good writers as much as writers want to find good agents and publishers. With that thought foremost in your mind, act confident even if you don’t feel it, and try to stay relaxed. The more desperate you seem, the less you will be taken seriously.
2) Make sure you’re pitching to the right person. You don’t want to pitch a young adult book to a publisher who only handles romance.
3) Practice your pitch many times before giving it, and be prepared with a notecard of memory triggers if nerves make you forget where you are. It helps if you can explain the story in one sentence, giving character, goal and conflict. Maybe “The Hunger Games” could have been pitched like this: “Katniss is a teenaged girl from a futuristic, ravaged America who must win the Capital’s twisted and bloodthirsty version of the Olympic Games to stay alive, but whose win would mean the death of her good friend—possibly boyfriend—Peeta.”
4) After your hopefully stunning one-sentence pitch, use the rest of your time to explain what makes your book stand out, and which writers you can compare yourself to in terms of style.
5) Dress professionally. You don’t have to look corporate, if that’s not your style, but make sure that whatever your style is, it’s well-groomed and projects confidence.
6) Be polite. Take time to shake hands and make a bit of small talk before jumping into the pitch. Continue being polite afterward by sending a thank you note—regardless of how the pitch turned out. You want to make a good impression and cultivate relationships, even if this pitch didn’t go as you wanted it to. Leave editors and agents with a positive impression for next time.
7) If all or part of your manuscript is requested, make sure you send it out in a timely manner. Don’t let more than a week go by before sending it (which is why you have to have it finished before you pitch it).
Does anyone have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them!
Lucy Balch, author of
Love Trumps Logic
Second Wind Publishing
Also available at Amazon.com