The Perfect Pitch Yields a Grand Slam
Skimming the pages of your favorite writing magazine, you see an advertisement for a writing conference with awesome workshops and scheduled agents seeking your particular genre. You whip out your credit card faster than a gunslinger at high noon and book the conference and hotel room.
You are at the conference and next in line to pitch your book. You've got this. Why? You read the list of attending agents and visited their websites, read every word thrice and paid attention to her bio, acquisition interests, her page of authors and the type of publications she agents. You checked to see if she maintains a Facebook page or a Twitter account. You became an agent info-junkie.
Do not be late for your appointment. Step forward and make eye contact. Introduce yourself and know the correct pronunciation of her name. You are a professional writer and this agent wants the full package: a client who makes appointments on time, dresses appropriately for meetings and interviews, and is polite and confident.
You memorized your pitch until you can project it like you're talking with a best friend. Tell her the title of your book, the genre, setting, and protagonist and antagonist in one to two sentences. Just the facts. Then, go into greater detail and talk about the conflicts, setting, tone, and demographics of your projected reader base. Emphasize you are the writer for this book and how it is unique from similar books of the genre. Talk about your platform on social media, writing groups and professional affiliations you belong to, and any blogs or newsletters you write. Finish by asking if she has any questions.
It is not imperative that you bring a proposal, but nice if the agent asks to see one and you are able to hand her a neatly typed, crisp copy of your proposal in a presentation binder. She may hand it back, give you her business card, and ask you to email a copy as an attachment. At least you have it with you and she can take a quick peek, but she may not want to pack forty binders to take home in her suitcase. If she is not interested, perhaps she offered suggestions for changes to make your story more sellable. Learn from the experience.
A pitching proposal comprises the title page with subtitle if used, author name, genre and final word count, plus contact information. Next, a page to describe where your book fits in the market, the demographics, and mention the target audience and manuscript status. These days agents want completed manuscripts, but you may say the manuscript will be complete thirty days after signing a contract. Ensure the plot and structure are tight with no dangling ends throughout. A professional edit is preferable, but at a minimum have it proofread by three to five writers, preferably one or two outside of your genre. Add previously published material and color photos of the front and back of your book covers to your portfolio. List awards you have received, and if a book won an award, mention this fact. Finish with a summary of the main characters, central story, conflict, and the cliffhanger. Next, include a single-spaced one to two-page synopsis in the present tense. Finally, add three sample chapters.
You are now prepared for your first face-to-face pitch. You can and will succeed. Positive thinking and preparedness will get you everywhere. You got this!!!