Friday, August 10, 2012

Pitches - 101

As I am writing this, I am actually in the middle of pitches at a conference. No, don't panic, people aren't talking while I type this. I am on a break. In any case, today we want to focus on the last of the elements when it comes to pitching and we certainly want to see how this fun activity is 100% similar to job interviews.

So, let's start with the job interview perspective.

What is your goal during a job interview? In simple terms, it is your job to convince that future employer that you not only meet all of the requirements for the job, but you are also the best candidate for the job. It is as simple as that.

When it comes to publishing and pitches with editors and agents, you are there to do the same thing. During that 10 minute block of time, it is your job to DEMONSTRATE to that professional that we will want to read more of your project. You want to show us that you are someone who we will want to work with and that your story is worth marketing and selling.

Unfortunately, far too many authors completely miss the mark when it comes to pitching. They simply blow any chance with this project they have worked months and years on by demonstrating that, as an author, they are not the best person for the job.

I pulled up several sites that talk about job interviews and I saw all of the same things that were considered great tips for making that job interview more of a success. No, none of these sites said you would be hired. These were all sites that helped you increase your odds.
  • Research
  • Practice
  • Be prepared
  • Confidence
  • Dress the part
  • Proper Etiquette
So, let's look at these points in terms of publishing.

Obviously you need to research who you are pitching to. It is once again time for me to say the same thing I have said time and time again. Your story DOES NOT fit with every editor or agent out there. it is not simply an issue of the genre, but extends to issues of voice, style and so forth. Along the same lines, you need to know that this is a person you really do want to work with. Remember, agents and editors are not simply bodies. They are human beings. Your work with that editor or agent is a long-term commitment and you need to be prepared for that.

Practice does not mean to memorize to the point you sound like a robot. Practice means to know your stuff. This really shouldn't be an issue since you should know your story inside and out. Coming across as someone who is clued out to the world is not the way to go.

Be prepared. There are several points  we want to focus on here. First of all, when we say to be prepared, you need to be ready to send that project to the editor right there and then. If you aren't finished, you aren't ready to submit. Being prepared also means to be ready for any questions the editor or agent might ask. This goes back to the practice element as well.

Confidence says a lot! Think of it this way... Do you go to a job interview telling the future employer you aren't sure if you're the best for the job, or you tell the person you're nervous, you are screaming that you are far from ready. If you have a great story, if you have done your work, and you are truly prepared, then why be nervous.

Dress The Part - Again, this is a job interview. I don't care if this is a working conference, if you dress like you don't care, then you are telling the editor or agent you don't care. Costumes, tacky clothing and so forth might be your normal weak around the house, but it can't be during the pitch session. Remember, writing might be a private affair, but when it comes to marketing your book, you will be out in public and people need to see you as a professional.

Proper Ettiquette is the last element. Listen, be polite, ask questions and don't argue. I think we can figure this one out. Again, remember, this is a marriage. We have to like you.

Just think before those pitches and you should be good to go.


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