Monday, July 1, 2013

Getting Ready For Those Pitches

Although this year I will not be attending RWA Nationals due to taking the time to spend a summer with the family, I still wanted to make sure to get a few notes out to those of you planning on pitching. For some of you, this will be a reminder, for others, this will be new. Still, I think it is crucial to take the time and think about what you are doing before you walk into that room.

First of all, it is important to remember that pitching IS a job interview. You treat it just like you would be applying for any other job out there and with the same mindset. Your goal, in that brief period of time you have with your future employer [editor/agent] is to prove you are the best person for the job. To do so, you have to demonstrate you and your product [your manuscript] is the best thing this person has seen all day. So, with that said, here are a few DON'T's to remember:

  • We don't go in telling them this is your first time. We get that, but show you have confidence.
  • We don't read our pitch. Do you read your resume when you have an interview?
  • We don't go throwing our business card to the editor or agent when you sit down. If they want something they will ask for it.
  • We don't make this a song and dance show. You are a writer so theatrical displays are inappropriate.
  • We don't pitch if we aren't finished with a project. Do you go to an interview without the education or training?
  • We don't pitch to anyone who will listen. Again, do you apply to jobs you aren't qualified for?
  • We don't use the pitch time to just A) chat; or B) practice. There are a lot of people out there who have projects that would take that time you are wasting.
Secondly, when it is that moment and time to pitch your story, all of the things we have been screaming about on blogs, in articles and workshops will come into play here. The biggest is to show and don't tell. Remember you only have 10 minutes to convince the editor or agent so use your time wisely. Focus in on three things:

  1. Tell us the title, genre, word count and the high concept to the story.
  2. Briefly highlight who the hero and heroine is for your story. Give us their Goals, Motivations and Conflict.
  3. Highlight what the basic premise is for the plot line. We don't need all of the intimate details.
  4. Show us why your story fits exactly what we are looking for. This is not simply the genre but the characteristics of what we think is a great story.
  5. Mention your writing biography. What other works in progress do you have? What contest wins do you have? Keep it professional.
Finally, this is just something to be aware of. DO NOT think that just because they request something they are interested in your story. There are editors and agents out there that will request material from everyone because they A) can't tell you no; B) really don't like pitch sessions and feel they would simply rather read your story; and yes, C) don't know what they really want to see at this point. Now, with that said, if they start drooling on themselves when you tell them of your project, this might be a sign.

I think the last thing to remember (I know I said finally), is that you don't have to pitch the story to the editors and agents face to face. You can still talk to them through the regular channels of the submission process. Also, you can wait until you get to a smaller conference where things are much more relaxed.

And for those of you not going to nationals, I am toying with some ideas of phone pitches to Greyhaus. I will have more details this week. Expect an announcement of how I will do this before July 4th.


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