Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is NOT in a Pitch?

It's unnatural.

You spend years polishing your writing until your eyes bleed. You spend hours upon hours B-I-C (bottom in chair) getting words to flow from your brain through your arms and out your fingers. And now you have to sell it.

In person. Using your mouth.

For those of us that form words with letters instead of lips, that's unnatural.

Deep dark secret time. Last WisRWA I pitched for the first time in few years. I admit I spent days writing my pitch, honing each word until it contained hero conflict, heroine conflict, setting, and above all, hook. Until it said exactly what I wanted in under five minutes. Then I worked days memorizing it until I had it word-for-word perfect.

And then, when I sat down opposite the agent, I forgot it all.

Well heck. Other people knew how to do this, not only did it, but did it successfully. What did I need to learn to be able to pitch, too?

Here's one big thing I learned just last week. I was reading on the WisRWA Facebook page and found Carla Cullen's link to agent Vickie Motter's eye-opening post, May Conferences: The Verbal Pitch.

My problem? A pitch is not a blurb.

Let me repeat that. A pitch is not a blurb.

Blurbs have great word choice, sparkling word choice. But pitches? Pitches sparkle because of you. Because you know and love your story. It's a conversation with your new friend the agent or editor about your story.

Which ties in with Mary Jo Scheibl's (who writes as Casey Clifford) advice to me,"Be yourself...[and] Ask questions."

So make it a dialog. Your friend is asking a few questions about your story.
Where is your story set?
Who's your hero/heroine? What's special about him/her?
What is the hero/heroine's problem?
What's the genre? or Who writes books like yours?

Best thing about pitch being not-a-blurb: you can ask your friend a couple questions too. What have you always wanted to ask a publishing business professional?


  1. Pitching scares the bejeebus out of me. I think I sound much better written than spoken. But this is one of those things that I want to put out there at some point. Just not ready yet. :)

  2. Oh yes, me too :) That's one of the reasons I'm doing this, to try to pull together advice for other writers.