Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Pitching

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page.

One way to get your manuscript in front of an editor or agent is to pitch your book, either online or in person. What is Pitching?

Imagine a 30-second to 15-minute job interview. In that short span of time, you have to spark enough interest to get a partial or a full request—the next round of interviews. A partial request can consist of anywhere from a few pages to several chapters from the beginning of your manuscript. A full request is the completed manuscript.

Yes, the completed manuscript. Unless you write very quickly and need very few edits, put off pitching your project until you’ve finished writing the book. A previously published author may, on occasion, pitch a proposal rather than a completed manuscript. The author has a track record the editor or agent can see, so the risk of making an offer with the book not being finished is much lower than with a new writer. A proposal is often the first three chapters and a synopsis.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember I wrote a post about blurbs and taglines. Use those short attention-getting, interest-sparking teasers as your pitch. They introduce the main characters, their goals, and their conflicts. Your pitch should make the editor or agent want to ask how your characters will overcome the conflict and achieve resolution. Be prepared to offer that explanation. Think synopsis here—ending included.

Editors and agents may host online pitch sessions on Twitter, a Facebook page, on a blog or website, or through some other social media. Use your editor/agent research to decide if the opportunity fits your genre. Read and follow the posted rules for the pitch sessions. Conduct yourself in a professional manner. That means thanking the host for his/her time and accepting your offer to submit or refusal for submission with grace. Do not behave rudely or belligerently to the editor, agent, or other pitching authors. The publishing world is small and close-knit. Behaving unprofessionally will earn you a reputation as such and discourage anyone from wanting to work with you.

Do not pitch on social media without an invitation to do so. Social media is for being social and promoting your books/blogs/etc., not for stalking editors and agents.

Conferences often hold editor/agent pitch sessions in conjunction with workshops and other events. These in-person interviews can be nerve-wracking and stressful. Start by dressing comfortably and appropriately. It’s a job interview. Dress in business to business-casual attire. Be on time for your appointment. Remember that editors and agents are people too. They’re looking for good stories and have more than likely been meeting with writers all day. Smile. Be friendly.

Don’t feel like you have to memorize your pitch. Many times, a recitation of your blurb can sound wooden and simply…memorized. Have a note card to help with the words if you think you need it, but know the basic premise of your story. Most of all, show the editor or agent that you love your story. Let him/her see your passion for writing.

Follow through when you receive a request. Send the requested materials in a timely manner and follow directions. If you receive and accept an offer elsewhere, let the editor or agent know that you’re no longer looking for an agent or your manuscript is no longer available.

Last but not least, pitch only during appropriate times and in appropriate places. This doesn’t include interrupting a private conversation in the restaurant, the bar, or the elevator. It also means the restroom is not the place to corner your dream editor or agent. Use good judgment.

Are you ready to pitch?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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