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.
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