Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pitch Perfect at the All Write Now! Conference

Next weekend several members of the Coffee and Critique writers' group will be heading to the SEMO campus in Cape Girardeau for the Third Annual All Write Now! Conference.

A few of us have signed up to pitch projects to agents or publishers. At time of registration, we were allowed to select two members of faculty to present our pitches to during the conference.

I signed up for Jill Marr from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency or Tiffany Schofield from Five Star Publishing. I won't know which one I'll get selected to pitch to, but I'll be happy to discuss my project with either lady.

Several years ago I pitched a work-in-progress to an agent who invited me to query her after I finished my project, which, for reasons I won't go into, is still incomplete.

Keeping the "practice makes perfect" motto in mind, some of our critique group member are going to be perfecting our pitches before our Coffee and Critique meeting next Tuesday.

That leads me to the purpose of this post. Please feel free to respond to these questions.

Have you ever pitched before?

What were the results of your pitch session?

What advice do you have for someone giving a pitch?

Specifically, what dos and don'ts  do you have to share?

Curious minds would like to know.



22 comments:

  1. best of luck to you on your pitch. Sounds like it will be a lot of fun at the All Write now! Conference.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It was fun last year, and with all the writers I know who are scheduled to go this year I think it will be a blast!

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  2. I am pitching in a week and a half, too. I've never done it, so I can't offer any suggestions.

    Perhaps drink something (alcoholic) before doing it?

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    1. Hi Sioux,
      I'm afraid if I have a drink I might not leave a good impression. So happy to hear you are also pitching.

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  3. I have never pitched before, but I will be giving it a whirl next Saturday! I think everybody (except me) should take Sioux's advice. Not that I'm looking for an unfair advantage or anything...

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    1. Hi Val,
      Yep. Sioux's advice might make me tipsy. So happy I'll get to see you at the conference again.

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  4. How about all pitchees--except Val and me--drink large amounts of liquor?

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    1. Hi Sioux,
      Hmm. Perhaps we all should drink up after our pitches?

      Delete
  5. Hi Donna -- Tiffany Schofield is a really nice lady. You'll love talking to her if you get the chance.

    I've pitched to agents and editors many times and will do one again in September at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver. From experience, I've learned to relax and treat the pitch like a normal conversation you'd have with the agent in the bar or coffee shop. Start with a greeting and maybe even a conversational question, be prepared with your logline and very short synopsis, then leave time for the agent/editor to ask questions or discuss your plot and characters. Remember these folks are just people with a job to do, and most of them are really nice people, so there's no reason to be any more nervous than you would be for a job interview.

    The results of past pitches: Some "not interested," a couple of "send me a synopsis and three chapters" that ended in rejections. My path to publication with Five Star was through a conference critiquing workshop that my Five Star editor moderated. Almost like a pitch, but different. Now that Five Star has dropped their mystery line, I'll be starting over with the hunt for an agent or new publisher. Back to the pitch room I go!

    I'll cross my fingers for you!!

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    1. Hi Patricia,
      Thanks you so much for your generosity to take time to share your experiences, and good luck in September at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver.

      Last October Tiffany spoke at the Ozarks Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and she had great advice and was very accessible. Too bad Five Star dropped its mystery line. Your mystery books were great reads.

      I hope you get good news in September. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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  6. Good luck to you, Donna, and to everyone in your group who is going to pitch! Generally speaking, I would make sure your enthusiasm for your project is clear - if you don't love your story, why would anyone else, including the agent/editor? :)

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    1. Hi Madeline,
      Thanks! It is so true how important enthusiasm for a project is. I tend to come across as even-keeled, even though I'm actually excited/happy/nervous, so I need to ramp up my enthusiasm level.

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  7. Helpful suggestions! Maybe we'll save Sioux's for our after-the-pitch-party.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  8. Helpful suggestions! Maybe we'll save Sioux's for our after-the-pitch-party.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  9. Hi Donna - Good luck with your pitches! You'll be nervous, of course, but try to remember that the agents WANT to LOVE your novel. They're looking for their next bestseller, after all. Best advice I can give is for you to write your pitch like it's the book blurb on the back of your book---short and enticing. You probably only have ten minutes tops to chat, so you want it to count. They'll ask questions that might run the gamut: What's your target market? Why will readers care about the MC? How do you plan to market/promo the book? What other authors' work does yours most resemble? How do your MCs solve their problem? OR, you might get no questions at all, just a smile and an offer to answer any questions you have before they ask you for a synopsis and first three chapters. The other thing you can do is write an actual query letter and ask if you may just read that to them. Then if there's time during your pitch session, you can ask them for advice to punch up the query. They're happy to help. Only once have I heard of a mean-spirited agent, and once the word got out about her, she spent a lot of time sitting alone at her table. lol So the agents are generally kind. They know you're nervous, and they (the one's I've pitched to, anyway) do their best to put you at ease. Last thing: You don't have to memorize your pitch. Not even a little. Again, they know you're nervous and they don't mind if you read your pitch to them. (The memorization comes in for an 'elevator pitch,' that 20-30 word log line that sums it up in 30 seconds. That isn't the same thing as a regular pitch session.) Anyway, try to have fun with it, and just be yourself. Good luck!

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for the great advice. I especially like your suggestion to write an actually query letter. Yesterday I found out each pitch will last five minutes, so that gives me a good idea how to approach.
      Donna

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  10. Sounds like a great opportunity! Wishing you all the best. My only advice would be to be yourself and have fun. :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I hope to have fun, regardless of the outcome of my pitch.

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  11. I'll be sending good thoughts your way, but I know you'll do well! I've pitched a few times with some good and not-so-good outcomes, but I think you did the right thing by practicing with a time limit.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. I have revised my pitch and am going to time myself so I hit the highlights of my novel. Hope it works. Thanks for your suggestions.

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  12. The practice sessions were fun and very useful. That was a good idea. I think enthusiasm and conversational tone are best, but maybe the most difficult when an author is nervous.
    I've pitched a few times, not recently though. Only one agent was rude and dismissive. But I received no interest either. I think you'll do well because to know your book inside and out.

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