What is it like to pitch to an agent? Terrifying, exciting, heartbreaking, reviving.
I’ve had agents read my pitches silently, others read them out loud, and still others where I verbally pitched to them. Every time is terrifying, but the more you do it, the more confident you get. So pitch and pitch often.
How do you not throw up all over your shoes?
Glad you asked. Here are some tips from me to you:
1) Agents are looking for the next amazing book. They want you to succeed! Do not look at them as the enemy.
2) They’re probably just as nervous as you. Chances are, they’ve been traveling, they’re in this new space waiting for all these authors to pile in and talk about books they love like children. Being the person who can make-or-break a dream is not easy.
3) They may be sick/exhausted, go in courteous but courageous. During busy conference months, I’ve met agents who had been to three conferences in a little more than a week with no rest in sight. Can you imagine? They’re tired, they may be fighting jet lag or a cold. Be kind, be courteous, be courageous. Whether they accept or decline a manuscript, thank them for their time and wish them well. They’re human, too.
4) Make them as excited about your project as you are. How do you do this? Not only with a great pitch but know why you love your story. Be prepared to explain why you are writing it. For instance, you’re writing a book about a chef because you love to cook. You’re writing about a cancer survivor because you are one/are close to one. You’re writing about a boy and his dog because you had a dog growing up and know that’s a very special friendship.
5) Practice your pitch. Practice it out loud. Many, many, many times. Sure the UPS delivery person, the Costco cashier, and the Wendy’s drive-thru attendant might be a little weirded out when you ask them to listen to your pitch, but desperate times! It’s often harder to talk to people we know than people we don’t. If you can pitch in front of your best friend/significant other, then you can pitch in front of the agent. Do it again and again and again.
6) Dress appropriately. A pitch is kind of like a job interview. Unless otherwise instructed, aim for business casual. You don’t need a suit, but don’t do jeans either. If you can, dress to represent you. For instance, at my last pitch, I wore black pants, a black silk tank, a killer candy apple-red Rock ‘n Roll blazer, awesome black riveted flats, and a statement necklace. I was still me, but looked awesome. My necklace actually become a conversation piece about another book I was writing. Make your outfit work for you.
BUT HEATHER?! HOW DO WE WRITE A PITCH?!
There are a ton of awesome classes out there to help you, as well as your local RWA chapter. Really, a pitch highlights the conflict between the main character and the love interest (if a romance). Know how long your pitch should be (Elevator? Short? Long?). Don’t be vague, don’t write something that could be a blurb on the back of a book. You WANT the agent to know what’s going on.
We’ll go more into depth in a different blog post. For now, keep the faith, friends. You’ll get there.
On this day in 1966 – Surveyor 1, the U.S. space probe, landed on the moon and started sending photographs back to Earth of the Moon’s surface. It was the first soft landing on the Moon.
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