Face-to-face pitches

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Robinne Weiss

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May 19, 2015
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In a few weeks I'll be attending a workshop where I'll have an opportunity to pitch agents and publishers face-to-face (5 min with the publishers, 10 min with the agents). This is a rare opportunity out here in the middle of the Pacific (almost all the publishers/agents are from overseas), and I want to make the most of it. I've read a bit on-line about how to prepare for these sorts of pitches. Any of you have experience to share? How have you prepared? What did the agent/publisher ask you? What did you ask them? Did you leave them with anything (business card, etc)? What do you wish you'd done differently?
 
I did this once at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) national conference I attended, 7 years ago. It's very intimidating, but remember they are speaking with multiple authors in a single day and are used to people being nervous. Practice your pitch so you have it memorized, and have a back-up one in case they're not interested. Definitely have a business card for them, and write the title of your work on the back of it, along with a single tag line for the book. Even if they say no, they'll be more likely to remember you if you pitch to them again via email or Twitter. You won't really have time to ask them much of anything. They're there to hear your pitch. If they say yes, you can clarify what they want to see - first three chapters, full manuscript, etc. And then make sure to actually send it! :) I know authors who pitched unfinished manuscripts, got a yes, and never finished the book. Golden opportunity lost forever. And of course, be sure to thank them for their time, even if it's a no. Good luck!! :)

Adding this because I just realized I didn't completely answer the question. They asked me more about the book I pitched, and of course about my previous writing credits. I had none. And five or ten minutes can be extremely awkward if you don't have a back-up, or fumble around for words when they ask a question about the book, or about the characters or plot in general, and you can't summarize what you want to say. So be sure to really know the works you're pitching, and be able to summarize key points without rambling.

It can also be awkward to sit there with many minutes left and they've just asked if you have anything else to pitch, but you do not. That's why it's best to have a back-up. Makes for a much more graceful exit. :)
 
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To ensure that agents and publishers remember you, Robinne, wear one of your striking vests/waistcoats with an insect pattern. You need to reinforce your image as the Insect Lady—this is an exercise in publicity, not a test to show how chic you can be in your fashion sense—trying to look like everyone else will mean you're as forgettable as all of them. Instead, stand out!
 
Adding this because I just realized I didn't completely answer the question. They asked me more about the book I pitched, and of course about my previous writing credits. I had none. And five or ten minutes can be extremely awkward if you don't have a back-up, or fumble around for words when they ask a question about the book, or about the characters or plot in general, and you can't summarize what you want to say. So be sure to really know the works you're pitching, and be able to summarize key points without rambling.

It can also be awkward to sit there with many minutes left and they've just asked if you have anything else to pitch, but you do not. That's why it's best to have a back-up. Makes for a much more graceful exit. :)[/QUOTE]

Yes, I actually have three finished MS that I could pitch (though I have a favourite for each agent/publisher), so I reckon I'll come armed with all three, just in case. I've been practicing my pitches on the cat. He's unimpressed. ;)
 
To ensure that agents and publishers remember you, Robinne, wear one of your striking vests/waistcoats with an insect pattern. You need to reinforce your image as the Insect Lady—this is an exercise in publicity, not a test to show how chic you can be in your fashion sense—trying to look like everyone else will mean you're as forgettable as all of them. Instead, stand out!

Are you saying my bug vests aren't fashionable??? ;) You're spot on, @Paul Whybrow. Being who I am, I actually have sewn myself a new, funky bag for the workshop, and am considering whipping up a special shirt for the occasion...not so much to change how others view me, but to make myself feel confident. Truly, that's the best thing about making your own clothing--wearing something that fits perfectly and reminds you of your many skills in life (not just the writing someone is about to reject) is a powerful confidence booster.
 
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