Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Art of the Pitch - What We're Really Looking For

We know you hate pitching and to be honest, there are many editors and agents who feel the same way. And yet, these pitches really can make a difference if you know what to do in that short period of time to really make it profitable for your career. Unfortunately, too many authors really do ruin all of their chances in that pitch with the approach they take before that editor and agent.

Let's begin with a known truth. We are not going to do anything until we read your story. Since this
business does revolve around the product itself, we are going to need to read the whole thing, and maybe, depending on the size of the agency, or if it is an editor, we may have to bounce it around to other people to see their feedback. Do not expect a contract right there and right then with that person. HOWEVER, you can make the sale here. Again, this is not the contract, but getting your foot in the door.

You see, the purpose of the pitch is to sell the IDEA and to sell YOURSELF as the perfect fit for what the editor or agent is looking for. Your job is to wow us with your professionalism and to demonstrate for us that your project and your writing is something we cannot live without. If you do that, when we do request your material, we will have you in our mind and waiting for it to show up in our email when we get back from the conference. You want to hook us.

Now I do have to say, you cannot force this or be something you aren't. A bad pitch is enough to make us start tuning you out and making decisions before we even read your manuscript. So, what are we looking for? Let's go through this from the beginning of that 10 minutes to the end.

The first 1-2 minutes - We are watching and listening to you. We are seeing how professional you can be. I've said it before and I'll say it again - "You never have a second chance to make a first impression." Therefore sitting down and shoving a business card in our face, or telling us this is your first time and you are nervous is not going to show you are ready. We're looking for eye contact, smiles and confidence. Seeing this makes us know we aren't going to have to drag the story out of you, or spend more time comforting you.

2-5 minutes - We want to hear about your story. Show us you can sell it to us! We need the title, genre and word count. We want to know the GMC of your characters. We want to know the conflict in the book. We want to know what the take away is for the reader. The key here is to show us you know why your story is unique.

6-9 minutes - We're back to you now. This is where we might take some time to ask questions. We're not so much interested in the project, but now we're assessing how you handle the public side of publishing? Do you know your characters well enough? How about the story? But we're also looking to see if you have a sense of your career. In this case we want to know all about your as a writer. We want to see if you have a handle on the future.

The last minute - We're likely giving you information on what to send to us. Yes, this is strictly an informational moment but we are still assessing. Are you taking notes? Do you still show that confidence you had when you came in? Did you ask relevant questions to show you are knowledgeable of the business?

The thing is, what image are you giving to that editor or agent? Are you someone we need to take seriously?

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