I recently attended a writers' conference in Seattle that focused entirely on publishing. Since I was pitching that day, and was scared out of my mind, the class focusing on developing and presenting a good pitch was extremely beneficial and helped me to sort out my thoughts and ideas to develop a great pitch. Now I am just crossing my fingers that the requests for my MS turn into something more!
Here is what I learned from the May 2017 Seattle Writer’s Conference about pitching to an agent.
The set-up of a perfect pitch: in order
-Introduce Main Character
-Flush out the Main Character (Tell us what they want out of life or what makes them interesting.)
-Inciting incident (What propels your novel into motion- The Hook)
-What is the major plot of the book about (What does the Main Character intend to do about the incident): Part three should automatically lead to four. State the incident and what the Main character intends to do about it.
-Complications (What stands in the way of what the MC intends to do.)
-What will the MC do to fix the problem (Do not say whether or not they will succeed.)
-Stakes: If the MC fails. What will happen to them?
A couple of other great tips for your pitching session:
-Start with your genre, title, word count and any relating novels they may be able to draw from (never use the classics like Harry Potter or Hunger Games: personal pet peeve of almost all authors)
-Never end the pitch with a rhetorical question
-Although agents prefer you to memorize your pitch, if you don’t feel comfortable, do what you are best at. If you need to read your pitch, then do it. Represent yourself the best you can.
-If you are looking to write compelling pitches and first pages your BEST resources to find and study are successful debut authors in your genre. They have learned to develop an amazing roadmap in order to get published so USE THEIR ROADMAP.
Personal things I learned about my pitching session:
-First pitch is the hardest. I was shaking like a leaf. But once I started, I got comfortable and was able to pitch with a lot more ease the rest of the time.
-The agents are human just like you are, so talk to them like a human, not a robot. During my first pitch I realized I had brought an apple with me (pregnancy and anxiety do not go well together.) I sat down and just said “Obviously I am pregnant and nervous because I brought an apple to my pitch session,” she laughed and I immediately felt more at ease. I realized after that, that she is human, and was able to talk to her with greater comfort and ease.
-Be prepared. I studied common questions that agents ask in pitch sessions and I had an entire typed out page of well thought out answers that I could refer to. The agents asked a lot of questions, and I felt well prepared to answer them because I had gone to great lengths to research and develop my thoughts, especially the break-up of my plotline. When they asked specific questions about my plot, I felt prepared to answer.
I hope this helps future writers to be more prepared for their pitch sessions! Good luck to all of us in this huge and exciting undertaking.
Megan Lee has a BS in Print Journalism and Law and Constitutional Studies and has published articles in several local and online resources where she has won small competitions. She spent time editing talks for worldwide audiences and now spends most of her time nurturing two toddlers and dreaming up stories.
To find Megan Lee:
Facebook: Megan Sonderegger Lee
Twitter: @meganleewriterUp and coming niche blog: Toddlertestkitchen.com