So you’ve written a book and now you want to get it published. You’ve heard of ‘pitching opportunities’ but just what does this mean?
Some pitching is done on-line such as the Allen and Unwin Friday Pitch or the Random House Children’s Pitch. If you are aiming at a specific pitching opportunity download their instructions and stick to them. For more pitching opportunities see my post here.
What follows is a generic outline for pitching.
This is a pitch outline for works of fiction.
Step one: Genre
Fiction — Define your genre. It it a YA fantasy, a time travel detective, steampunk or space opera? You should know your genre because you should be reading in your genre.
Step two: Short Pitch
Now you need to come up with a 25 word pitch. What is your story in a nutshell? This is where the four questions are a big help.
WHO is the story about?
WHAT do they want?
WHY can’t they achieve it?
HOW do they overcome this?
Step three: Long Pitch
This sums up your story line and includes the ending. Concentrate on CHARACTERS, CONFLICT and the CONTEXT. Don’t get lost in the world building back story or sub plots.
If the book is part of series, is it a stand alone book linked with others by a theme? Mention this briefly.
Step four: Market Strengths
What is unique about your book? Where will it fit on the shelves? What other books is it like? (There are two schools of thought on this. I have had one editor tell me it was handy to be able to say to their marketing people, this book will appeal to readers of X. I’ve heard other people say it is bad to compare your book to other books. So you will have to make a decision on this).
Step five: Research your Pitching opportunity
Start by researching the kind of publisher who publishes your books. This is why you need to be reading in your genre so you know which publishers are buying these kind of books.
If a publisher or agent announces that they are willing to take on-line pitches, then download their guidelines and make sure your pitch adheres to what they have asked for. If it says a one page synopsis don’t annoy them by sending them ten pages, or even two.
Step six: Prepare for the Pitch
Research the editor/agent. Find the editor or agent’s blog, if they have one. If you enjoyed their posts, say so. It shows that you have been doing your industry research.
Finish the book. Editors don’t buy first time authors on a partial. (Synopsis and 3 chapters).
Stick to the time limit. If the pitching opportunity happens at a convention or festival and they say you will have 5 minutes to pitch your book, then don’t go over time. You wouldn’t like your time to be cut short, so don’t do it to someone else.
Practice your initial pitch and time yourself with a friend (ideally someone who has done a pitch to an editor so they know what to ask). They can pretend to be the editor/agent. Remember the industry professional will want to ask questions, so leave time for this.
It is amazing what you can forget under stress – What did I call my book? – so prepare some prompt cards. You may not have to glance at them, but it will give you confidence to know they are there. Of course it is much better not to need them And what ever you do, don’t read from them. Remember to include your writing credits. Have you been short listed in a competition or had short stories published? Has the book been through a manuscript appraiser?
Have back up plans for other books/series in case this one isn’t what the editor/agent is looking for. Be frank about whether the other project is completed. Eg. The book isn’t ready yet. I can send you a partial and have the book finished in 6 months.
Prepare a business card for the editor/agent to take away with them. (They won’t be taking your manuscript. They will probably have flown in from interstate or overseas and won’t want to carry twenty 100,000 word manuscripts on the ‘plane!). Make sure you have your name and contact details on one side of the business card, and a teaser for the book on the other to prompt their memory.
Now, come up with the 25 word (approx) pitch and put it to us for feedback.