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.


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§ 9 Responses to Pitching…

  • litlove says:

    You are so brave! Well done there! I think pitching is terrifying, and have only had to do it twice, and down the phone in both cases. I was reduced to a shadow of my former self by the stress of it all! I do wish there were a better way for authors who, after all, like being left alone in a room to write. Does that scream mega-performance skills? But well done to you for being so courageous and I’ll cross my fingers for the agent’s positive response!

  • Bree says:

    Congratulations! Phew what an accomplishment. I hope you get somewhere with the pitch. Fingers crossed.

  • Jeannine says:

    Well done oh! Don’t keep us in suspense, let us know as soon as you hear anything!

  • Heather says:

    But what if I don’t want to keep my day job?

  • qugrainne says:

    Oh, Oh! Very brave. I have pitched, and I have frozen.

    Good luck!

    Now, about this book….. You have been very quiet…

    Isn’t the energy stimulated by the whole conference experience WONDERFUL? I am envious, as I did not attend this year – other fish to fry. Life does get in the way, doesn’t it? I am organizing myself to your “butt in chair” approach at the moment. Call me on it in a week!!

  • Bella Rum says:

    Oh, my goodness. Who wouldn’t be nervous? Good for you! Keeping good thoughts for you.

  • jeanie says:

    You go, girl! I am so proud of you! I remember my friend Judy telling me about that experience — to be so concise, so complete in so short a time is really something. I am impressed and can’t wait to hear more about the conference, the pitching and the book (you have been holding out on us, my dear!). Don’t blame you. That’s big stuff! Good luck!

  • Well done on pitching your book and thanks for the advice

  • write4you says:

    You are so write – oops, right! This was my first experience with pitching and although I did not have a book “in progress,” she and I developed an idea through a plot idea forwarded at the editor panel. So – now I go to work!

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