I’m sitting here at the airport in Spokane, WA. I really don’t care to fly. But I’m on my way to Golden, CO via Denver for the annual Women Writing the West conference; my tummy flutters and my nerves tingle. Yet, I’m excited because I’m pitching my latest manuscript to an editor. I met her last year at the Women Writing the West conference in Kansas City, MO and feel, if she accepts my Young Adult manuscript, it will be a swell marriage.
Her press publishes historical fiction for middle school and high school readers with a Native American slant, which is in line with what I write. But does this mean she will accept my story? No it does not. I need to be prepared. I need to show her my book is in line with what she publishes. She needs to fall in love with my story. And I have ten minutes to do just that. I have decided to concentrate on six points for a perfect pitch that will lull her into this love affair.
- What does a perfect pitch look like? Google it! In today’s world of cyber noise, there is no reason to be ill-prepared. Great advice spills over into the river of information, providing samples for both non-fiction and fiction.
- Study the publisher you are pitching to. Know what they publish and why. If the editor doesn’t publish romance don’t set up an appointment. If they don’t fancy mystery, find an editor who does. There will be no engagement if you pitch to the wrong publishing house. Gather sample tiles from them for comparisons to your book. I’ve taken two of the publishing house’s titles and compared them to Delbert’s Weir showing similarities and placed them in my proposal.
- Write out the key points of your pitch.
- Have a one line sentence that states your book’s theme. Yes, one sentence. This is called the hook. Example: Snakes on a plane. That sums it up, don’t you think.
- Write out the back cover of your book and say it during the pitch in a way that is natural and flowing. Don’t read from your pitch practice sheet. I hope you have typed and printed all of your pitch points and have practiced them. I will get to this momentarily.
- Know what is stopping the protagonist from reaching her desire. What are the main conflicts in one sentence? Remember, you only have two minutes for this pitch. The rest of the time will be for questions the editor or agent has for you.
- What are the main points and themes of your book? Know them for the Q and A part of your pitch session.
- What is the setting?
- If character driven, state why. Only talk about the main character and protagonist.
- Be ready to answer questions:
- How does the book end?
- Is there potential for more: Sequel? Trilogy?
- Are you involved in any critique groups?
- Have you worked with a professional editor?
- Remember to relax as agent and editor are human and pulling for your success. Be confident and enthusiastic, but not so enthusiastic you are offered a valium. Look and act confident.
- Practice, practice, practice. Practice out loud. Practice on a friend or family member(s). Practice in the mirror. Practice in the car. I know I will be practicing in the airport, on the plane, and in my hotel room. My roommate doesn’t know yet, but I’m sure she will hear my pitch a few times and I’m sure she will be supportive as I would to her if she was the one pitching her book at this conference. Perhaps she is.
Have fun, relax, and let the words flow like a soothing, fluid river that invites you in for a float on a warm summer afternoon.