Most people would rather leap off this rock than pitch face-to-face with an agent. My huge fear of heights, however, does not make me one of them.
Since I signed up for an agent pitch at Crimebake, I also signed up for the seminar on pitching. It was extremely helpful. There was an overview of pitching with handouts conducted by Lynne Heitman and Paula Munier.
Here are some of the key points:
- 50 word opening pitch including:
- word count
- type of book
- unique selling point
Titles can be based on: objects of desire, action, one liners, setting, twist on a poem, song, book, or cliché, theme, symbolism, or character.
With wordcount read agent blogs and do Google searches to make sure your wordcount is inline with industry standards.
For type of genre, research the conventional genre names.
The unique selling point is what differentiates your book from every other book. It can be:
- High-concept premise
- Unique setting
- Unique characters
- Unique voice
- Author credentials
During the rest of the session, an agent sat at each table and helped the author’s hone their pitches for the next day. We had Ellen Pepus whose insightful comments helped get my pitch in shape.
The pitch should tell what the story is about and what makes it marketable. The thing mine lacked was specificity. Ellen also stressed the need to be colorful and catchy.
There are great resources on the web about pitching–some of which I list in my blogroll. My favorite is this Nathan Bransford’s blog on pitching.
I also had a manuscript critique done by Kate Flora. She raised many good points. Having digested them, I’m working on serious revisions again. Manuscript critiques with published authors are offered at most conferences and are a golden opportunity to get critical feedback. I recommend getting one if you can. Take lots of notes and give yourself a few days to process it all. Several points that Kate pointed out were also mentioned by a couple beta readers. Whenever 3-5 people point out a similar issue/concern, I know there’s a problem and I have to figure out how to fix it.
Crimebake was a huge learning experience and I can feel my manuscript improving because of all the amazing people I met who shared their knowledge with me.