Countdown to RWA conference–Part III – The Nuances of Pitching Your Book

Pitch with finesse, not a hammer…

There are many good sites that give direction about pitching to editors and agents at a conference.  So I wanted to approach the situation from a different direction. 

1)      First and foremost, remember that…AGENTS AND EDITORS ARE PEOPLE, TOO.

Yeah, I said it.  And I’d even go as far as to say they’re a lot like writers.  We all love books and chose this industry because of the good stories.  Many people who enjoy getting lost in books are kind of…shy.  So keep in mind, the agent/editor you’re pitching to might also be a little nervous.

Don’t sit down and instantly barrage them with your story.  Pretend you’re meeting them for the first time (which you probably are), and act accordingly.  Say…  “It’s nice to meet you.”  Ask them how the conference is going for them. Ask them the best part of the conference…or if they had been to any good workshops yet.

2)      Try not to go all fan-girl (or fan-boy) on them.

Remember the kinda-shy part?  Well, if you start gushing about how great they are…they’ll probably get uncomfortable.  HOWEVER, you know who they love?  Their AUTHORS—and their BOOKS.  Tell them how much you enjoyed AUTHOR x’s last book and how surprised you were by who the bad guy turned out to be.  The agent/editor will warm up…and hey…you have something in common.  You both loved the book.  (Caveat – don’t tell them you loved it if you didn’t.  Honesty counts.)

3)      Have confidence in your book—and do your research

Yeah, you’ll be nervous. That’s okay.  But you need to have confidence in your book.  Don’t apologize for pitching it.  When the time comes, and it usually does with the agent saying, “So…tell me about your book.”  Start with your pitch…and let them know right off the bat what kind of book it is.  IE.  “I’ve written an 85,000 word dark paranormal that I think will fit in the Brava line.”  That way they know where to put it.

4)       Tell them about the characters, plot, and twists…but more importantly…how is it different???

So you’ve written a vampire book for Brava.  Yeah.  There are tons of vampire books out there…so what makes yours different?  In my case, it was the science involved…the fact that vamps and shifters are just different species on earth…much like humans.  Then a genetic virus was created…

So while you’ve shown what type of line the book should belong to…how does yours stand out?

5)       Remember that you love your book!

This is fun.  You’re discussing your book – those characters you adore—with someone else who also loves books.  Enjoy yourself—when the agent/editor asks you a question, dive in.  Get philosophical about the black moment.  Gush about the hero.  Admire the heroine.  Smile…and have fun.

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4 thoughts on “Countdown to RWA conference–Part III – The Nuances of Pitching Your Book”

  1. All great pointers…I think my problem would be I would be so nervous I would mess up…Even if I know the book is amazing and people would love it…

  2. Lynn Rush says:

    Oh, and don’t pitch to them in the bathroom! LOL.

    When I was preparing for my first national writing conference ever (which included pitching!) I was on a conference loop that gave advice. One person told stories about how people have cornered agents and editors in bathrooms just to pitch their books. I chucked thinking it was a joke.
    It wasn’t.
    Boy, that’s just crazy funny. I wish I could attend RWA this year, but I am planning for the next year, it’s on my side of the US next year, so I can drive to it!! Woot!

  3. Great advice, Becca. See you next week, chica!

  4. Ruthie says:

    I think the advice about what *kind* of book it is is super-helpful. I’ve been pitched to before by authors of academic books, and the whole time they’re talking I’d be scrambling just to figure out which one of our lists this was even for. Author: jabber jabber jabber about minutia for five minutes. Me: Oh, so it’s German history?