Every year unpublished writers attend conferences to meet with the editors of their choice and to pitch mini summaries of the books they’ve completed. Below are 10 crucial tips to help make your pitch a successful one. In other words, tips to have the editor sit up, listen with a keen ear, and think ‘this is an author I would like to work with’ and then request the manuscript you’ve sweated blood and tears to complete in its finest form.
Practice your meeting/pitch in the mirror the week prior. Do this several times, until you feel certain that you are presenting in your best form. Pay attention to how you make eye contact, how you hold her head, how your smile looks, whether your posture is its best. Each time you practice look for anything that might detract to your presence. Decide early on whether you are reading your pitch or memorizing it. Whatever your method practice it as well in the mirror.
Dress for success and feel confident. I cannot stress this tip enough. Don’t go into a pitch dressed too casually. Would you do that for a job interview? Not if you were interested in making that job your career and definitely not if there were a hundred others in line for the same position which is exactly what authors are dealing with when they decide on targeting a particular line or publishing house. So make that first impression count. This is a tough business. Nail the ‘gimmes’ immediately.
Maintain eye contact as you approach the editor. When you spot the editor you’re to meet make sure you have a smile on your face and that you are not surveying the room, but are focused on her. Walk with an aura of confidence and friendly professionalism.
Shake her hand as you introduce yourself. Show her you’re an author with a book to sell, that you know your book is what she wants and that you are an author she wants to work with. And don’t forget to smile!
Ask her something that is not pitch related to break the ice and put you both at ease: how she’s enjoying the conference or if she had a good flight or if she’s done any sightseeing yet.
Tell her she has something of yours on her desk (if she does) or that she’s judged you in a contest (if she has) or that you’ve met her in an elevator last night (if you have) or if you’ve read a recent book by an author she’s editing. In other words, give her a “connection.” However, if you don’t have that connection, don’t worry; she won’t disregard your pitch. Just move to step 7.
Begin with the mechanics: title of your book, its word count, the genre/line you’re targeting.
Pitch. Use voice inflection — in other words, don’t monotone it. Keep the pitch succinct. During your week of practicing in the mirror you should have manicured your pitch to last 2-3 minutes. You should have the goals, motivations and conflicts of the two main characters rounded out and you should have a hook at the end. Whether you’re reading your pitch or have it memorized, maintain eye contact as much as possible. Feel enthusiastic about your story and let that enthusiasm radiate to the editor.
Remind her of the book’s title by saying you have the completed manuscript ready if she’s interested, and ask if she has any questions.
Finally…Thank her for seeing you and for the request. Shake her hand again and tell her the manuscript will be in the mail within the week. And don’t forget to SMILE!
I grew up in a farming community where, during the summer, I picked wild strawberries in pastures–before fall turned the trees red and gold and geese honked their way south in broody skies. In the winter, I loved watching the Northern Lights dance across the night.
Today, my stories often echo bits of those rural aspects I left behind. When I’m not at the computer, I enjoy sitting in my backyard among the vivid flowers I’ve planted, and scratching down notes about my characters.
On rainy winter evenings, you’ll find me relaxing by the fireplace, lost in a book. Best of all, I can’t wait to chit-chat with my real-life hero in our Pacific Northwest home at day’s end.