Pitching In

The Pennwriters 2010 conference is rapidly approaching and, with it, the chance to pitch agents and editors. This year, the conference is in my backyard–Lancaster. (Rubs hands together and issues throaty chuckle.)

Last year, it was held in Pittsburgh. The distance made it impossible for me to attend, which was a big disappointment because I wanted to find out for myself which sneakers Colleen Lindsay decided to wear.

Now that the five-hour-drive obstacle is out of the way, I can happily look forward to attending. Although I won’t be pitching agents, I may be pitching an editor or two. To prepare for this panic-inducing event I decided to begin preparations now.

I’ve never pitched in person before. Lucky for me, lots of people talk about pitching–writers’ groups who want their members to make the most out of their conference experiences, agents and editors who want their valuable time to be productive and enjoyable, and writers who want to help out the rest of us.

I’m sharing several links that I found to be extremely enlightening. I’d love to see more articles so if you have a favorite to share, please do. And if you’d like to tell us about your own pitching experiences, I’d love that even more.

Conferences are an excellent way to meet agents, editors, and other writers. Since you’ll be interested in networking and meeting new people, you need to be ready to introduce yourself and your work. Rachelle Gardner (love her blog) has an excellent series on perfecting your elevator pitch–perfect for those brief encounters. When someone asks you what you write, you’ll be ready to wow them.

Speaking of “wow,” here’s some thoughts from Women on Writing. Kerrie Flanagan wrote a comprehensive article on pitching that included quotes from agents, tips for success, and heaps of encouragement. (It’s a slow-loading page but well-worth the wait.)

Jennifer Lawler reminds us that a pitch isn’t about making a sale–it’s about starting a relationship.

Read up on advice from the hosts of the conferences themselves. Our own Ayleen posted this excellent article in December. Also check out this writers’ group. In addition to providing additional links, this article suggests preparing a five-minute pitch for a ten-minute session. The other five minutes leave room for building that relationship Jennifer Lawyer told us about.

And don’t worry that you are going to end up doing a lousy job. Some agents like Nathan Bransford admit that it’s just as hard to be the one listening to the pitch as it is for the writer who’s giving it.

Lastly, a breather. Sure, it’s important to be ready to pitch your book. Maybe that pitch could be your big break. Maybe it will lead to a major step forward in your writing career. It’s easy to become overwhelmed (and panicky) by the enormity of it all. Take a deep breath and try to remember–ultimately, you are talking to a person, with quirks and interests and the need to decide which pair of Converse sneakers to wear. Remember the basics–and if you can’t remember what the basics are, let Rachelle Gardner remind you. The less an agent needs to pull out of you means a smoother, less intimidating encounter.

Good luck to everyone who is signing up for pitch sessions. Hope that big step takes you a long way.

Pushcart Prize nominee Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer whose work has appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, 42 Magazine, Dark and Dreary Magazine, and Silver Blade. In addition to co-editing this blog, she maintains her own at ash-krafton.livejournal.com.


10 responses to “Pitching In

  1. Great stuff Ash – thanks for all the links and encouragement.

    Good luck with your pitch – see you in May!!


  2. Great comprehensive blog post and thank for the mention of my article on WOW. Good luck with the conference, mine is coming up at the end of March (and Rachelle Gardner will be one of the agents) and I am looking forward to it.

    • My compliments to you, Kerrie, on that wonderful article. I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. Good luck with your own conference and give our best to Rachelle!

      Cheers, Ash

  3. We’re actually planning to have a Pitch Workshop as part of a quarterly event our regional SCBWI is holding. Doing them in front of our fellow writers should make it a little easier when facing the editors/agents. Thanks for the additional resources.

    • It’s one thing to pitch to your mirror and another thing to do it to a live human. I think your workshop will really help prepare writers for that daunting task! Have fun at the workshop…

      (As for me, right now I’m pitching to my Germaan Shepherd. Those big brown eyes keep telling me I’m on the right track so far and any day now I’ll be ready to try it in front of another person.)

  4. Thanks for compiling a list of links with tips on pitching to agents. This is helpful since I’m a new writer and attend my first Writers Conference this Spring.

  5. Great comprehensive round-up. Thank you. I’m re-tweeting this on Twitter.

  6. Pingback: See you at the Pennwriters Conference! « Pennwriters Area 6 HQ

  7. Pingback: See you at the Pennwriters Conference! « Brainripples

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