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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pitching In Person

This June I'm attending the NYC Pitch and Sell Conference in New York, which means I'll be pitching my manuscript to editors. Editors. Just typing that, let alone saying it nearly makes me break out in a sweat. This is a different kind of conference. There aren't any tutorial workshops here save for the one's on perfecting your pitch, and there are no agents in attendance. This conference is for writers who have a highly polished manuscript that is ready to put in the hands of editors who work for publishing houses.

I know what you're thinking. You already have an agent Heather, why bother? Surely he'll be pitching it to them. True, he has pitched it to them. In fact, it's sitting on the desk of five of the attending editors. So why am I bothering? I met my agent at a conference and I think that person to person conversation made a world of difference. I knew immediately how professional and hardworking he was, and I knew that we clicked. If I hadn't gone to that conference I'm not sure he would have agreed to look at my work just by seeing it on an e-mail query. Meeting in person made me stand out in his memory. When there are thousands of people pitching books it's vital to do what you can to stand out in a positive way. Then there's the fact that I'm pitching my new book to them.

Pitching in person isn't new to me, but pitching to editors is. The same concepts apply. You've got to hook them with an interesting sentence that introduces the protagonist, introduces the problem, and hits the main point of what the story is about. I call it the triple P hook.

*P~Protagonist
*P~Problem
*P~Point

Then you give a paragraph or two that highlights the really interesting parts of your story. What you choose depends on your novel. That's my elevator pitch and it's under a minute, which is the NYC Pitch requirements. They want us to leave plenty of time for the editor to ask questions, which I love. A regular pitch is between 1 and 3 minutes long and gives you time to introduce yourself, talk about your experience, awards, that kind of thing. But I won't get that much time! My person to person pitch looks a lot like my query letter.

After you've prepared the pitch based off your query letter then it's time to try it out on people. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful critique group that I can send it to and ask for feedback. Once they gave me their feedback I got to work making changes. Now I'm bouncing it off everyone who will listen. My cats and horses could probably tell it to you word for word if they could speak.

Anybody else pitching at conferences this year? I'd love to hear your tips and troubles involving it. Need more pitch help? Check out this great article on pitches by agent Rachelle Gardner: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2010/05/secrets-of-great-pitch.html

24 comments:

  1. Oh, this is good stuff, Heather!! I know you'll do awesome when you face those editors. ;-)

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  2. Thanks for your confidence Shannon, it means a lot!

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  3. You are so right about the person to person communication. It's totally different than over blogs or emails.

    At the last conference I went to, I either spoke to or took classes from agents and authors who seemed super cool online but not so much in person. And vice versa.

    Best of luck on your pitch!!!!

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  4. I attended a conference this year and listened to agent Katherine Sands give a workshop on "Making the Perfect Pitch" (same title as her book). Very eye opening and she was great. I'm not at the pitching part yet, but I soon will be.
    I wish you lots of luck!

    Laurie

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  5. Great point Olleymae, it's hard to get a good feel for someone on line. I've got to be honest, if I wasn't really comfortable with people the person to person pitch would scare me to death!

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  6. Thanks Laurie, I'll have to look for Katherine's book, it sounds like it would be a huge help! Thank you for the good luck, I'll take all of that I can get!

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  7. Don't forget P #4-- personality. Be your best self and let your personality shine. Editors watch for clues to answer the BIG question-- "Is this someone I want to work with? Pleasant? Intelligent? Expressive? No issues? Someone who will come across well when out promoting the published book?"

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  8. That's a fantastic point Karen! I'm going to have to rethink my Triple P's! Personality has so much to do with it! In fact, in meeting an editor face to face it's probably the most important part. Thanks!

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  9. Heather, I definitely agree that making a personal connection can help. It's not necessary, but I think it's also an opportunity to see how well you mesh with the other person. While I met my agent in person (twice), I didn't get to meet my editor in person. However, I did get to talk to her on the phone prior to making a decision on a publisher (there was more than 1 offer). And we just clicked ~ she spoke about some marketing aspects and because that's my day job, I was really excited. As it turns out, we work very well together. Good luck at your conference in June!

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  10. Good luck! The 3 P's are definitely something to remember.

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  11. Thanks Vicky and Liz. With all this good luck I'm bound to do well!

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  12. Heather, I think you have a gift for pitching in person. I'm sure you'll do great! Me, I'll stick to my paper pitches, or these days I guess they are digital pitches.

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  13. Aww, thanks Alissa! Your faith empowers me. And hey, there's something to be said for being good at paper/digital pitches too!

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  14. Pitching to agents terrifies me, let alone editors. Good luck!

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  15. It is scary the first time Lorel but the good news is it gets a lot easier. You just have to remember they're people too, and they love books!

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  16. Sending happy pitching thoughts your way! I've been reading a lot about this recently, so I really felt your post. Well said. The best pitches I've read seem to achieve a level near poetry. Truly impressive writing!

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  17. How are you going to resist the urge to ask those 5 editors who are sitting on your MS to get off their duffs and DO something with it?

    Need to work on my pitch. My book isn't finished, so at least it would be SOMETHING to offer those who ask me about it.

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  18. Best of Luck Heather... You are going to be great! And... I love the three P's! When I prepare my pitch for Seattle, I'm going to use this.
    Can you imagine... NY and Dragons... oh, I can see another story. :)

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  19. Thanks Amanda!

    So true about the best pitches being on a level near poetry Portia, that's a great way to describe it!

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  20. I won't lie MissV, it won't be easy! But if this process has taught me one thing, it's patience. Believe me, that was not a lesson I learned easily! LOL! That's a great idea to work on your pitch as something to tell people who ask about it.

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  21. I'm glad you liked the 3 P's Karlene! Now that you mention it, when you put NY and dragons together.. hum...

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  22. I'll be thinking about you, and nervous for you, but rooting you on is easy. You've got the hard part.
    P.S., bring plenty of "Secret" LOL.

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  23. Thanks Lorelei, great suggestion! Got to remember that 'secret', I'll be needing it!

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