Most authors (and yes, this happens too with job interviews) spend their entire time thinking about the "me" in the conversation. For authors, it is all about the book. You have taken an amazing amount of time drafting the perfect face to face pitch and the elevator pitch. You and your critique partners have practiced hours on that pitch. You have it memorized. You have it nailed. You have the inflections in the right spot.
While having this information so perfect, most authors have completely forgotten that the person sitting on the other side of that table is a human. And...do you want to know something? That person may ask a question.
Are you prepared?
As someone who has listened to countless pitches, I want to take the time to tell you my approach to these and how I conduct a pitch session. I'll also throw out a couple of questions you might want to be prepared for.
First of all, when someone sits down at my table, and I see the author immediately pulling out their note cards or prepared speech, I immediately push it aside. I do not want someone to read their pitch to me. The reason for this is simple. I want to really hear what the story is about, and not the prepared marketing pitch of what the author thinks the story is about.
I had an author tell me that her story was not inspirational. OK. I am fine with that. However, once she was just talking, the story line could not avoid telling me it was inspirational. The thing was, she didn't want to pitch an inspirational, knowing that this was not a genre I represented, but wanted to pitch it as a contemporary. No, she was not trying to "pull one over on me." Subconsciously, she believed her story would fit with anything contemporary.
The second thing I will often do is, when I hear someone start into a memorized pitch, I will often find a place to "politely interrupt" and ask a question. Now, I know this sounds mean, but this pattern interrupt will often get that author again, just talking about his or her story. I will also add that when I do interrupt, it is truly because there is something I simply don't know.
Now that we are on the subject of those questions, what are some questions you might need to be prepared for:
- What other stories have you written in this same genre?
- Tell me about the motivations of the character?
- Talk about the conflict. What is the driving internal conflict for the character?
- If pitching to an agent - Which publishing house do you see your story located at and why?
- If pitching to an editor - Why do you believe this story fits with our particular publishing line?
- On average, how long does it take you to complete a story from start to finish?
- What do you see is the high concept for your story?
- If your book was previously published - What were your sales numbers last year? For the last three months? Please note I am talking about sales numbers (this would be units sold not reviews).
- If you were self-published originally, and now are looking to move into traditional publishing, why are you making this shift?
- If you have tried pitching this story, who have you pitched to and what was their reaction Note - If you have already been rejected we cannot take that story back to that same editor.
Are you prepared?