Pitching Tips

Not the baseball kind, though it is the season. For romance writers, it’s manuscript pitching season, too. The Romance Writers of America National Conference begins this Wednesday in Atlanta, meaning hundreds of aspiring romance authors are gearing up to present their manuscript, either formally at an appointment, or casually somewhere–anywhere–an agent or editor might be found.  Pitching your book, a which every writer must do, either through a written query letter or in person, is a bit stressful, so it’s best to have a sentence or two prepared in advance. (Preparing this logline, by the way, is another whole topic!)

Of course, nothing beats practicing to alleviate nervousness. You can say your pitch out loud to your mirror, to a friend or loved one, or if you are really brave, to a stranger. At a recent workshop I co-presented, we took the practice one step further. For our Maryland Romance Writers meeting, Laura Welling and I recruited seasoned pitchers to act as editors and agents.

Pitch practice at Maryland Romance Writers

Our aspiring authors look rather happy for what could be a stressful event–and you could, too! Here are our tips for the actual event:

– Introduce yourself, and shake hands if you like to do that. Thank the agent or editor for taking time for pitches.

– Sit down.

– Do not be alarmed if the agent or editor is still taking notes form the last pitch. They have no break between.

– Because you’ve done your research, tell the agent, ‘I chose to pitch to you because____ (you represent____, your blog gave ___info, I know you work closely on ____and I think that is a great attribute in an agent.) Make it short.

– Tell the person what kind of book you are pitching, and how long it is. This is a good way to get past your nerves. “Today, I am here to tell you about  COWBOY UP. It’s a contemporary western romance, and is around 95,000 words.”

– Then go into your pitch.  Give them your one to three sentences, perhaps starting with your high concept or logline if that’s a good lead-in.

-After you’ve given your intro statement and 3-sentence pitch, stop and smile at the agent/editor. Ask: Do you have further questions? The agent is usually does by this time and this makes the pitch more of a conversation.

-Prepare for those follow up questions! Some are obvious: more about your hero and heroine, the conflict, the black moment, what keeps the romance apart, what cinches it.

-If the agent/editor requests immediately, you do not need to add more. Get the instructions for how to submit, and ask any questions you need to.

-In case time allows, have a conversation starter in your pocket for this particular professional.

It’s ok to end early! When you’re done, go and relax a bit!

Good luck to the writers pitching at the 2013 RWA National Conference!

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About Laurel Wanrow

Fantasy romance tuned to the magic of the land.

Posted on July 15, 2013, in Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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