I’m more of a first base or right field kind of guy but tomorrow I’m pitching. Not the kind with nine innings (although our local pro team could use a lot of help). Instead, I’ll be pitching two of my stories to separate literary agents in a 10-minute live pitch format.
I did this once before and got a request, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’m more prepared this time around, treating it like an infomercial, selling a stranger on a product they must have.
I’ve collected some great advice from the experts. I hope you find it helpful.
“No matter what genre you’re writing in, you have to be able to show why your story is different and why that difference needs to be read.” (FROM HOW TO PITCH A LITERARY AGENT)
My stories aren’t about a boy wizard, but if they were I’d better have something unique or it most likely would be turned away. Having read a ton of middle grade books helped me develop a plot and characters never seen before. Now I just have to convey this information in a clear and concise way.
Using the blurbs on the back of novels as a guide write up a pitch of your own. Make sure to state who your hero is, what his goal is, why he needs it and what’s stopping him from getting it. Focus on the conflict at the heart of your book. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this formula. (FROM HOW TO PITCH YOUR NOVEL AT A WRITING CONFERENCE)
In the first two sentences of my pitch, I reveal who the MC is and their conflict. If you aren’t aren’t clear on this part, your story is not ready for the world.
“Allow your unique voice to shine through so that readers will get a sense of your style, and let your elevator speech “breathe” so that readers get a real sense for what you are offering. Read your description out loud to hear how it sounds, and revise until it’s perfect.” (FROM FIVE STEPS TO WRITING A KILLER ELEVATOR PITCH FOR YOUR BOOK)
I’ve practiced in the car, shower, walking the dog, to anyone who would listen. The poor guy at the door selling his bug extermination services didn’t know what was wrong with me. My critique group has heard and reacted. After several weeks of this routine, I’m more than ready.
Keep it short. Brevity is your friend! Just because you have three minutes (or 5 or 10) doesn’t mean you should take up all the time. Never talk for as long as possible—it can take a mere 15 seconds to deliver a convincing storyline. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking. You want to hear their feedback and reaction (FROM HOW TO PITCH AGENTS AT A WRITER’S CONFERENCE).
I get ten minutes with each agent, but my pitches last just 60 seconds. I want their questions to drive the direction and outcome for my session.
So… here I go. Unlike pitching in baseball, I’m not looking for a strike out. I’m hoping for a grand slam!
****UPDATE FROM THE DAY AFTER: TWO PITCHES/TWO REQUESTS!!!
I’ll be back Monday with another edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!