Monday, June 27, 2016

Why Memorizing or Reading Your Pitch Is Wrong

I am always amazed at the approaches some of the authors (no actually a lot of authors) take when it comes to pitching their project to an editor or an agent. I understand that authors have a limited amount of time to actually pitch their project to the professionals, but the approaches they have chosen are pretty much guaranteeing them a certain rejection. They may not get it right there at the table in that hotel conference room, but it is coming. The idea of memorizing an elevator pitch or having it all written out is the worst thing a writer can do.

When I hear authors talk of this approach, the rationale is simply, "I don't want to forget anything." or "I am really nervous about this." First of all, this is ridiculous. You have been working with this story for months now and frankly, if you don't know your own story by now, you really have no business talking to an editor or an agent. Secondly, and this is the big one, if you are this nervous talking to someone about your pride and joy, then publishing is not the business for you. This is a PUBLIC business where to make it in the world you will be EXPECTED to talk to people. If the only people you can talk to are your characters at the computer screen or the cat curled up on your desk that you frequently send social media posts to your friends about, then consider some other business where the public is not coming into play.

Pitching to editors and agents give you an additional marketing tool that you simply do not get when you send in an unsolicited manuscript or proposal via email or snail mail. You are getting a chance to show your personality. You get to demonstrate to the editors and agents that it isn't just your amazing manuscript they get, but they get you and your professionalism.

When you sit there and read your pitch, your you turn on your "deer in the headlight" look and crank out that scripted pitch, you are showing the world you are far from prepared. And then, when you add in all of those apologies about how sick you are, how tired you are, or how scared you are, consider that a big billboard saying, "I am a loser and would be the worst person representing your company." I don't care how good your story is, you have just demonstrated you don't have it.

I would also remind you the pitch session IS a job interview. Consider this. Do you sit down and read your resume and cover letter at a job interview. Do you tell that corporate executive "I am really nervous, this is my first time" or do you shove a business card in their hand the moment you sit down at the table? Absolutely not! You present yourself in a professional manner, and you show that person sitting across the table from you that you are the best person for the job.

So, if your writing chapter has been doing sessions on elevator pitches, or your roommate at the conference is pushing you to write out that pitch, consider that a wrong move!

What we want is simple.

  • Be yourself
  • Be professional
  • Tell us about your project
  • Give us the basics - title, genre and word count
  • Tell us what makes this story unique
  • Tell us what else you are working on.
And, again... if you can't do that, then maybe cancel that appointment, give it to someone else who is ready and return to your room. There, you can sit down behind the computer and write that query letter. But, please be advised, you will still have to talk to us at sometime or another.

1 comment:

  1. Scott, I LOVE this! Passing it around now, just as Laurie Wallmark did through her blog :)