The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pitch Your Pitch

photo by frank3.0
     
       So, you have a manuscript that's finished. You'd love to sign your name at the bottom of a contract. You cannot wait until an agent and then a publisher says "yes" to your baby.  This post might help you snag an agent...

      Yesterday I attended a Saturday Writers workshop. The speakers were Kristy Makansi (of Blank Slate Press), Steve Wiegenstein and Linda O'Connell. On this post, I'll focus on what Kristy and Steve said about pitches. Tomorrow, I'll share some of many Linda's tidbits.

        Kristy outlined what she considered what you should do and not do when it comes to pitches. Here is what you should include when doing a pitch:

* What is the conflict? What is stake for the main character?

* Get to the turning point in your pitch. Include the big turning point when you talk to an agent or publisher. What is the ultimate choice the protagonist makes?

* How is the conflict resolved? Tell the agent or publisher how it ends. Don't say to them, "You have to read it to find out." No. The agent does not need to read your book. They might sign you to publish your book. This is a possible business transaction for both of you. It's not a case of perusing the shelves at a bookstore to buy a novel to read over the summer. Tell them. (You might ask the agent, "Do you want to know how it ends?" because they might be the rare one who likes to be surprised. But if they say yes, tell them.)

* What makes your story unique?  Include the word count and the genre along with what makes your manuscript different.

* What is the setting, and how does the setting impact the characters? Don't just say, "It takes place in Missouri in the 1980's." Paint a writerly picture with your words, telling about the setting and how it roots the characters in their place.

Steve Wiegenstein strongly recommends rehearsing your pitch. Practice it over and over, and time it. After all, he says, "It's a speaking occasion. It's a sales occasion." The minutes fly by if you're stumbling and searching for words, so rehearse it with a timer.

He further adds that it might be a good idea to limit your pitch to four minutes. That means there will be 3 minutes for the agent and you to interact. Questions the agent/publisher has can be answered at that time.

These are the things that should not be included in your pitch.

* Details that don't have to do with the central character.
* More than 1 or 2 names of secondary characters
* Passive voice--It should be in present tense, active language, and avoid all cliches.

How about you? What pitch success (or nightmare) stories can you tell? What bits of advice can you add?

9 comments:

  1. This is all new territory for me, so thank you for sharing the wisdom for those of us who couldn't make it to the workshop!

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    1. Tammy--I would have loved to see you there, and I know one other person who would ESPECIALLY have been surprised to see you. Linda did a wonderful job, which we all knew would happen. Yes, perhaps after WiWoDoNaNo is over, you'll have a book to pitch?

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    1. Lisa--Thanks. It WAS a good workshop.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Sioux. I've seen Kristy Makansi at the St. Louis Writers Guild workshop before along with two other publishers and they were a wealth of information!

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    1. Lynn--You're right. I saw Kristy at a Gateway Writing retreat before, and she was full of good information then, too.

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  4. Sounds like I missed a great workshop! Thanks very sharing - can't wait to hear Linda's advice - I'm sure she was fantastic!

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    1. Beth--It was good, and Linda not only had great advice, she delivered it with humor and oodles of personality.

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  5. One of the great things about Kristy is that she was willing to take pitches from everyone who asked, including books off her normal want list, and folks who had never pitched but felt ready to try it out with a friendly face. No one cried. No one hyperventilated. What a good experience.

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