Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Make Your Pitch Perfect

Writing Song of the Day: "Misery" by Maroon 5

As Pam mentioned we attended a two day conference this past weekend and we learned lots. So, today I'm going to share with you points from a session I attended on pitching your manuscript.

Katherine Sands, an agent at Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, led a session on how to pitch your work so that an agent will be ready and willing to read it. She started the session by pointing out the most important tip for pitching:

"Get others excited about what's exciting to you!"

Pretend that you are going to tell someone about your favorite movie- you wouldn't say "Uh, well...that movie was good because...it was a movie that had cool people in it and a lot of action and...well, you know it's set in a historical time period and stuff..." (okay, this is really how I used to talk about my manuscript In Limbo- but I'm learning. I promise!) Once you are excited enough to make others excited about your work you then need to know the key points to hit when you have three to five minutes of an agents or editors time. Sands says to think of this process as a movie trailer- you usually see the setting, meet the main players, and learn the conflict.

Sands sums up this process with the three P's:

Place- where is your story set? What time period?
Person- who is your main character?

Pivot- what is the climax/turning point or problem in your manuscript?

When answering the above questions, Sands says to act as if you are blind and deaf to your story because that's how an agent/editor is going into reading your work. They do not know the story like you do, so pull yourself away from it and give as many details as you can... in the short amount of time that you have.

Finally, when putting together your pitch you want the person listening to be able to get the three P's and be able to repeat it back to you. Sands suggests practicing your pitch with a few friends in order to get it right.


Never, NEVER, say "there's nothing else out there like my book," OR "my manuscript/book is going to change the world." For some reason agents/editors really don't like it when we're narcissist.

Now that you're equipped go and practice your pitch and let us know how it goes!


Racquel Henry said...

Good info! The part about the three P's is especially helpful, it's a good break-down. I'll def be using it. :)

Melanie said...

Thank you for all of the information that you two share with us!

You always seem to be at one workshop or another. How do you find out about them? I am interested in going to a "how to write a great book" type of thing.

Jess said...

Thanks for the great info! It's so nice of you to share what you learned. We all appreciate it. :)

Amie Kaufman said...

Great, thank you! The most useful tip for me is to remember to show the enthusiasm you'd show if it were somebody else's book you loved, or a movie you loved. Good to be reminded that if we don't hype it (without reaching the 'this is totally unique, we're in bestseller territory' level), nobody will!

A. J. Larrieu said...

It's so hard to get enough distance from my own work to pitch it. The first few times I ever told anyone what my novel was about, it went something like: "There's this woman, and she has these powers...Ummm...and this ex-boyfriend..." Brutal. I'm trying to get better. I've got an agent, but there are so many situations where it helps to have a pitch in your back pocket: meeting editors, other writers, etc. Thanks for the tips!

Marquita Hockaday said...

Thanks all of you for commenting :)
A.J. I am in the exact same situation as you! I felt like I know what my manuscript is about, but it's so hard to make it sound exhilirating. Luckily, I have a built in pitching/editing machine in my cuz, Pam. She's helped me a lot with that- and so did the session I attended.
Amie- the enthusiasm point stuck with me the most,too. If we don't love it noone else will!

We love sharing all the information that we get and def. plan to hook you all up with more!