April 11, 2011 § 9 Comments
Last year at a writers’ conference, I chose not to pitch the book I was working on. It was partly out of respect because, you know your book should be finished before you pitch it, especially if you’re a first-time writer. But it was also partly because I was too shy. What? Too shy? Too shy to sit in front of an agent and “sell” my book, enough to pique his/her interest and get her to say “send it to me” ? what? I couldn’t muster that?
But this year was different. Pitching to an agent, for five minutes, FIVE MINUTES!, was included with the conference price. I’d be crazy not to try. Further, serendipitously, I had, two weeks prior to the conference, discovered the presence of a local agent/publisher. She would be attending the conference, listening to pitches and was interested specifically in Missouri writers. I signed up. Nothing to lose, right? (still, if one could lose weight by being stressed, I would have lost about 5 pounds moments before I was to pitch!)
Here’s what I now know about pitching.
1) Get your pitch down to one sentence.
2) Don’t waste any time disclaiming or explaining … about your book OR your writing!
3) Leave your business card (seriously) when you leave the table.
Once finished, there is a good chance you will hear “send it to me.” This does not mean your book is accepted; this means you showed up at the conference, you chose the right agent to pitch to, you care about the writing/publishing process, you want to move your book forward and that the agent will take a look at it. “Send it to me” is only the first of the many million steps in moving closer to publication.
Pitching, for its own sake, is darn good practice. There you are with 5 minutes sitting across from an agent who is NOT scary (really) and there you are, listening to your own voice distill the book you are working on and wondering if it even sounds like something YOU want to read!
Following your pitch, you may make several of many different decisions.
(I have no idea if anyone else would read my book. A writer tends to work in solitary. I will look into buddying up with a “first reader”, though.)
Anyway, I recommend pitching.
It is preparation, it is distillation, it is nerve and guts and belief. If you believe in your book, if you don’t hear any falseness in your own voice as you pitch it , if there are no niggling doubts in the back of your mind, then you are, at least, on the right road.
Even if the book gets a look, I know one thing for sure. It needs tons of work. And that work is still (and always) part of the fun.
But yeah, I’m keeping my day job.