Pitch Session

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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craig
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Pitch Session

Post by craig » May 8th, 2011, 11:41 pm

I got wind of the news that there's an editor pitch session at the local upcoming SFF convention... so I registered for the convention (and thus achieved a new level of nerdiness) and applied for a spot in the pitch session...

I know pitch sessions have come up from time to time on Bransford's blog, but I've always skimmed over them because I never thought there'd be an opportunity I could take advantage of... so now I'm left wondering what to do at a pitch session...???

One person told me that "You basically read your query and try not to sound like a dick while doing it." Is that really it?

And should I be reading off paper with whatever I say? Or memorize it?

And should I dress snazzy? Comfortable but put together? Stereotypical hipster author with thick-rimmed glasses, a messenger bag, and a Starbucks latte in my hand?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Pitch Session

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 9th, 2011, 9:25 pm

Ha - well, in case you want to take another look here's my post on pitch sessions: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/04 ... sions.html
1. Spend as little time as possible talking about your project. Honestly, beyond a bare bones description, I don't need to hear much about the project. I'm going to need to see the writing to have any idea about whether the project is up my alley.

2. Go in with questions. A pitch session is the author's time. You have an agent's undivided attention. Pick their brain, get targeted feedback, show them your query. Whatever you think would be helpful.

3. Focus on making a personal connection. This is an opportunity for you to put a face and a personality with a project. I definitely remember the people I meet with at pitch sessions, and if you seem professional and cool, I'll remember that when I see your query.

4. Listen to feedback. I really tried to help some people with their projects, but quite a few authors bristle at the faintest suggestion that they change their work or approach. You don't have to take my suggestions, and, in fact, you shouldn't if you disagree with them. But the last thing I want to see in a prospective client is someone who is not open to any suggestions whatsoever.

5. It's okay to be nervous. Heck, I'd be nervous too. I'm not holding it against you.

craig
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Re: Pitch Session

Post by craig » May 9th, 2011, 10:51 pm

If this were Facebook, I'd click "Like" -- thanks Nathan!

I got an email from the organiser of this event with the following directions...

-----
As our schedule only allows for 15 minute meetings the editors have asked that you hand in your manuscripts prior to the sit down meeting so they have the opportunity to review your work before discussing it with you. You will need two (2) copies of each submission - one for each editor. These can be handed in at Keycon to the Merchandise window on the 12th floor beside Registration when you pick up your membership package. The face to face meetings will occur Sunday afternoon. Your scheduled appointment will be given out when you hand in your submission package.

Your submission package must include the following:

A professional query letter which includes the title of your novel, word count, genre, a brief biography and your contact information. Please list relevant publication credits.
A synopsis of your book that describes the story from beginning to end. Please keep it to 1-2 pages in length. Please give your synopsis an appropriate title, not simply 'synopsis'. i.e.: Synopsis-The Winner.
The First 50 pages or three chapters, in Times New Roman 12pt on white paper, print on one side only and indicate paragraph breaks with an indent. Please name your partial manuscript appropriately, i.e.: Partial-The Winner.
A promotional plan, showing short term and long term goals. While your submission won't be won or lost on the basis of this 'plan', it will get you thinking about what you can do to help promote your novel.
All pages need a header with the author’s last name and manuscript title, i.e.: Smith/The Best Novel Ever
-----

So, contrary to what that person told me... it seems I don't read my query as the editors will have supposedly already read it...?

And for the "promotional plan," this would involve... what? Would this be a good time to discuss how I see this as a trilogy for sure, with the possibility of it being an ongoing series?

What other things should I discuss for the promotional plan? Social media? Book signings at the local bookstore? How this will be an automatic global bestseller and will easily sell ten billion copies with zero effort?

Also, are there any general guidelines about comparing your work to others? Cuz the thing is, I would compare my work to books, TV shows, and movies that are largely unknown, yet they are my greatest source of inspiration in terms of mood, pacing, and tension. Author Karin Lowachee, TV show Charlie Jade, and the movie Moon all come to mind as being comparable in tone and mood... yet when I generally mention these to people, I get blank looks...

Tirolo
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Re: Pitch Session

Post by Tirolo » May 16th, 2011, 10:09 am

Nonononononono no. You don't read your query letter. You tell the other person, briefly, what your novel is about. You should be able to do it in a couple sentences. There is a difference between a pitch and a query. If your comparisons are obscure, don't bring them up.

rosepetal720
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Re: Pitch Session

Post by rosepetal720 » May 17th, 2011, 5:12 pm

I have a question: I'm going to the Historical Novel Society Conference where I'll have time to pitch to agents. My book is polished enough for an agent to read, but I plan on revising it more. If they request the manuscript, should I give it to them as is, give it to them and explain that I'll make changes, or tell them I can send it to them in a month or two?

An author told me a book doesn't have to be finished to pitch it, but I always thought that wasn't the case.
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/

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HillaryJ
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Re: Pitch Session

Post by HillaryJ » May 17th, 2011, 8:26 pm

rosepetal720 wrote:I have a question: I'm going to the Historical Novel Society Conference where I'll have time to pitch to agents. My book is polished enough for an agent to read, but I plan on revising it more. If they request the manuscript, should I give it to them as is, give it to them and explain that I'll make changes, or tell them I can send it to them in a month or two?

An author told me a book doesn't have to be finished to pitch it, but I always thought that wasn't the case.
You shouldn't query a book until it is finished, but due to the timing of conventions, authors sometimes find themselves pitching works in progress. If you are revising, figure out ahead of time how long that should take. Are you doing a chapter by chapter rewrite that's going to take four months, or polishing a couple of rough spots for the next few weeks?

When you get an invitation to submit, be able to tell the agent how soon you think you will be able to do that, and always mention the request and the convention on the submission cover page.

Good luck!
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