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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pitching In 25 Words Or Less

Pitching is a big part of many conferences and the San Francisco Conference was no exception. You had to be ready all the time because people everywhere were casually asking what your book was about and many times they were agents or editors. Luckily the first day there I attended agent Katherine Sands session on How To Entice An Agent In 25 Words Or Less. Here is what I gleaned from her lecture.

*A yes is based on excitement.
*Communicate what you're offering that is unique, fresh, and interesting.
*Place, Person, Pivot (or problem) must be present in the pitch.
*Don't be general, vague, or say it's boring or cliche. Show sparks and elements.
*There must be a takeaway, something the person listening will remember.
*If you have special experience or qualifications to write the book then say it.
*Share your energy and excitement over your novel.
*Remember this is the introduction to you as an author~not just your book.
*The hook at the heart of your book must come across.
*Don't mention series yet, make them care about this book first.

Though Katherine doesn't represent my genre I still learned a lot about pitching from her. No matter what you're pitching, the same elements must come across. These points are all things to think about in a query letter as well as a pitch.

30 comments:

  1. I've read that your logline must be like an itch that the agent just has to scratch. As in : "A lonely teenager is invited by the most beautiful girl in school to come home with her for dinner to discover he's the main course."

    Now, those 25 words will get your agent's attention, won't they?

    Always a good post, Roland

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  2. An itch, I like that Roland! Great logline by the way. It has my attention!

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  3. 25 word pitches are really hard to write but I can see how they are the most important. Because after 25 words, if it is not interesting, it gets boring really fast! Thanks for sharing this Heather!

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  4. Yes! I need this. Thanks, Heather!!! :-)

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  5. I've been working to summarize my book in 25 words. It is so hard to carve the plot into such a limited amount of words, but I finally have it to around 36. Now to try and cut some more.

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  6. Saba, they are hard! So true. You're welcome!

    Shannon, excellent, glad my timing was good for you!

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  7. Melissa, I know what you mean! I have a really hard time fitting it into 25 words too. It helps bring your focus in sharp though doesn't it?!

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  8. I practiced my pitch over and over again and when it came time to give it I was shaking horribly. Me, who's usually so comfortable speaking. But by the time I got to the 3rd agent, I was a pro. So practice, practice.

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  9. Those are some fantastic points - I need to start working on my pitch, so this comes at the perfect time! Now I just need to get myself to a conference so I can use some of these tips!!

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  10. That sounds like me the first time I had to pitch! It had to have been hard to understand me because my voice was shaking! Glad to hear you got it down though. After saying it so much to myself, my friends, others at conferences, and agents, I'm a pro at it now too!

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  11. Heather, This is "the" best info I've read on pitching. I've heard so many ideas on "how to", but now having done this a few times myself, this is the best advice. I'm going to print and read before I pitch the next one. Thank you!

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  12. I've learned that pitches are essential -- especially at conferences. But they are also helpful for us as writers -- it keeps your novel tight and focused.

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  13. Wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Karlene, you're welcome! I'm glad you found it so helpful! I hope it makes your next pitch outstanding!

    Karen, so true, me too! It does help keep our novels focused. I like to come up with mine during the outlining process and refer back to it often.

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  15. Thanks for sharing what you learned! Definitely useful information! I haven't had a chance to pitch in person yet but now at least I won't walk in blind when I do.

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  16. You are the sweetest, Heather. Thanks for sharing. *hugs* This is good stuff.

    Love,
    Lola

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  17. It is so fantastic Heather that you come out of these conferences with so much positive energy and fantastic insights that you share with all of us.

    You're the best....

    I hope to see our names listed tomorrow.... We need a blog party!

    Michael

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  18. Sondrae, it isn't bad when you go in prepared. Hopefully this list will help you out!

    Lola, you're welcome! (((hugs))) back!

    Michael, thank you. You know me, I love to spread the knowledge. A blog party sounds like fun!

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  19. Fortunately there are no pitching opportunities at the LA SCBWI conference, but I might need this advice come the fall at the local RWA conference. :)

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  20. We'll get you pitching soon Stina! And with confidence hopefully!

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  21. Great advice! *off to write a new story so I will NEED a 25-word pitch*

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  22. I am not good at this! I'd have to practice a lot before I came up with anything good!

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  23. Thanks for the post! Pitches have always been my nightmare. But maybe this helps me hate them a bit less, lol!

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  24. Lydia, it's not easy but with practice it becomes easier!

    Monica, that's a good way to describe them. I'm glad this helps!

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  25. It will! And, I'm going to practice it on you. Actually talking to John Nance in 30 minutes...will try it out. :)

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  26. Excellent Karlene! Best of luck, I know you'll do great!

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  27. I worry about pitching my novel. Not because I can't generate enthusiasm about the subject or the plight of my character but because my antagonist isn't a person. It's a social structure, a thing, that manifests itself through the actions of multiple individuals. Maybe this is too complex an idea for a beginning novelist?

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  28. That's a tough one Tim. I've heard a lot of agents respond to similar questions say that you really need someone to focus on, a physical bad guy. That doesn't mean you can't pull it off, it just means it won't be easy.

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  29. That's a tough one Tim. I've heard a lot of agents respond to similar questions say that you really need someone to focus on, a physical bad guy. That doesn't mean you can't pull it off, it just means it won't be easy.

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