You Get To Pitch Your Story? Great!

Pitching your story is, in a word, scary. It’s also nerve-racking. If you’re lucky, you have an actual appointment to pitch. If not, you only have a minute or maybe less. So….if you get in the position to pitch your story to an agent or editor, here are some tips from Carrie Lofty, the Pitch Witch.  These tips are more if you have a very short amount of time.

1. First off, be natural. Try not to be nervous. (Yeah, right. That’s about impossible.) Make eye contact. 

2. Have a good attitude. Be confident. Don’t beg for them to please,please, please accept your story. Don’t act like a whipped puppy.

3. Don’t read from a script. If you need notecards or an outline so you don’t forget what you want to say, that’s fine. But don’t read word-for-word from a script. Keep it natural. If you know your story inside and out, this shouldn’t be a problem.   

4. Lead with the basics: Title, genre, word count, and basic premise.

5. Use two adjectives to describe the story, i.e. sexy and sinful; snarky and humorous, dark and edgy.

6. Your pitch, not including the information above, should be 50-70 words long. Yes, it’s hard to describe your 400 page masterpiece in 70 words.  Describe the heroine (or hero), progression, conflict (goal, motivation, conflict). Reflect tone of the work.  Keep it third-person present and don’t use character names.  Don’t use any cliches or blurb-speak (what you see on the back of the book).  Your first line has to be catchy so they’ll want to listen.  Tell them something about your book that makes it different from others.  Lead with the word “when” or have it in the first line of your pitch.

7. Some editors and agents don’t want you coming in with a rehearsed pitch. They want you to be able to walk in and sell your story. They may also have questions such as, “What are you bringing to this story that is different from what’s already out there?”  Another question might be, “How does this story fit our line?” Be prepared to answer questions. If you have an actual, sit down pitch appointment chances are good your actual pitch might only be a couple of minutes. The rest of the time might be spent talking about other things, like movies, favorite authors, actors, and whatnot.

8.  Elevator pitches are even harder because you only have seconds to do your pitch. In this case, keep it about 30 words long. Don’t worry about titles, genre, or word count. Just go straight into the pitch. One tip–make business cards and print your 30-word pitch on the back of the card.

All right, now get your pitches ready! Tomorrow, I’ll post about things that irk agents and editors.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge
    May 08, 2012 @ 13:24:28

    Good advice – especially the 2 adjectives thing.


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