So, I’ve had some interesting experiences with pitching in these last few weeks, and I wanted to take a moment to share them here. First, let me say that I’ve never pitched in person to an agent or editor, and I’ve only pitched live online a few times, so I’m by no means an expert. For some great pitching advice, look here (scroll all the way down!), or here, or here (for a LOT of pitch info).
That being said, here’s what I’ve leanred.
As a member of the amazing writing community Savvy Authors, I’ve had the opportunity to pitch my work to some well-respected and highly successful literary agents in a private chatroom at the Savvy site. Sounds easy, right? Comfort of home, slippers on, no nerve-wracking face-to-face encounter to stress about.
No. It’s not easy. Easier then pitching in person? Probably. But still, very much an anxiety inducing experience. Here’s how it works at Savvy:
1) Show up in the chatroom on time.
2) You (and the other selected pitchers) are assigned the order in which you will pitch by a moderator.
3) Upon your turn, you enter the private Pitching Chatroom where the agent will be waiting.
4) Very briefly introduce yourself (because time’s a tickin’! You’ve only got ten minutes!).
5) Copy and paste your title, genre, word count and 3-line pitch.
6) Wait (without biting your nails or tapping your foot or freaking out in any way whatsoever) while the agent reads and reviews your pitch.
7) Answer any questions the agent might have about your manuscript or yourself (they always have questions!).
8 ) Hope and pray that the agent will request to see more of your work.
9) Politely hank the agent for her time, no matter what the outcome of the pitch.
10) Return to the general chatroom and report to your fellow pitchers and moderators how things went.
11) Listen and respond while fellow pitchers and moderator either congratulate you (!) or sympathize with you.
Here’s my pitching history so far.
Effort #1 – I’ll be the first to admit, my pitch was untested and a little iffy. The agent I spoke to was pleasant, though not much interested in my genre and not interested at all in my manuscript. Boo! But the great part is, she was forthcoming and more than willing to offer advice on how to make my pitch sparkle. Slightly disappointed about not getting a request, I went back to work on my pitch, taking her advice to heart.
Effort #2 – I had a new and improved pitch. This agent was incredibly kind. She doesn’t tweet or blog, though, so I didn’t feel like I had a great handle on who she was or what she was seeking. Luckily, she was interested in my pitch and had tons of questions. I mean TONS. That’s good though. She wasn’t bored. I answered them as quickly and directly as possible. And… she requested a partial! Awesome!
Effort #3 – Intimidating. This pitch was with well-known agent in the Kidlit scene. Popular on Twitter, popular blog. It’s weird how you feel like you sort of know a person just from their online presence. Again, she was very nice, as I imagined she would be. She had questions too, most notable, Can you compare your book in voice, subject matter, etc… to that of another author. Why, yes, I can! Again, she was interested and happens to be seeking books that fall into the genre I write. And… another partial request!
Now, I just have to wait. The hard part. 🙂
Here’s the greatest thing about these online pitches (other than getting to wear slippers while you do them!): Pitching online (or at a conference, for that matter) cuts out a lot of waiting time. For example, one of the agents I follow on Twitter recently commented that her query inbox was at over seven-hundred queries. Seriously?! I imagine it will take weeks to get through all those, and I can also imagine that it will be difficult to give each and every one close and personal attention. Pitching takes that portion of wait time out of the game. It also makes your name just a tiny bit more memorable in a sea of hundreds (thousands?) because hey, she spent ten minutes discussing your book with you. That, in my opinions, is so much better than being one letter in a sea of many, many more.
Moral of the story? If the opportunity to pitch arises, run with it!