You, too, can have Pitch. Pitch On!

What’s in a word? Pitch. What thought or image comes to mind? It’s a simple word. A single syllable. Yet, pitch provides punch when it comes to meaning.

Will you pitch a baseball? Or do the nautical pitch – the dip and rise with the bow of a ship? Maybe you’ll climb the architectural pitch of your roof to decorate the house for the holidays? Will you tune the radio to holiday songs and sing a range of musical sounds? (Or if you’re like me, crank up the radio so loud that you’re unable to hear the utter lack of pitch.) Then there’s the printing pitch. Do you know about this one? It’s the density of characters in a printed line expressed as characters per inch. Huh? Anyway, maybe your pitch is defined by some other informal meanings?

When I think of pitch, I think of the palm sweating, nerve-wracking hours before I meet with an agent to tell them about my manuscripts, then the five-to-ten minutes I have to talk with them about my writing. Those minutes blow by at warp speed. Afterward, my inner critic rakes me over the coals. There’s always something I could’ve done better. Yep, you know what I mean. We’ve all had times when we wanted to impress someone who might make a difference in our life. Someone who might pitch our spirits high or pitch us off an emotional cliff.

Each time I pitch, I do a post mortem and collect data. What have I learned through my pitches? I believe my conclusion applies to all types of pitching –Be prepared and practice makes perfect. However, at this point, I’m going to apply my experience to writing.

How to prepare:
Do your homework before the pitch session. Learn all you can about the person with whom you’re pitching. Check out websites, follow blogs, see their profiles on facebook and tweet with them on twitter. Look at LinkedIn. Use social networking to your advantage. It provides specific and personalized information. Get to know an agent’s likes and dislikes about writing.

Know what you’re going to say in advance. Know how many minutes it takes you to deliver your pitch. Practice saying your pitch over and over until it flows off your lips like melted butter. Practice alone looking into the mirror, or with someone, or even your dog. But, practice. Pitching is all about selling yourself. Practice makes perfect.

The Pitch:
Now it’s time to pitch. Remember, agents come to conferences to find new writers. They’re there to listen. They’re not unapproachable creatures on a pedestal.

Here’s what to do:

*Be respectful. Introduce yourself.

*Take a moment for small talk. Connect with the agent. Ask what book they’re reading now. Ask them about a favorite project. Ask what type of story they’re dying to find.

*Be friendly. Smile.

* Pace your presentation – not too fast and not too soft.

* Sound excited and passionate. A pitch session is an opportunity that doesn’t happen with a query letter. It’s far easier to convey in person the excitement you have for your work. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.

* If you absolutely can’t present with out reading your pitch, bring a copy for the agent to follow along. This makes it more engaging for the agent.

Remember pitching is a two-way street. Writers need to be interviewing agents in the pitch session and at the conference. I’ll be writing more on that topic this soon. In the meantime, you may not be a writer, but if you’ve read all the way through, remember, pitching is about selling yourself. It’s something we do everyday regardless of our profession. We only get one time to make a good first impression. Make it count. Then, tell me about your pitching.

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About Linda Joyce

Writing is a curious journey. You don't pick it, it picks you. See my website at www.Linda-Joyce.com to learn more about me.
This entry was posted in Agents, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to You, too, can have Pitch. Pitch On!

  1. Michael H. Harper says:

    Really good notes on pitching, Linda; I enjoyed reading them. Pitching is a specific skill set, for sure. It can (and should) be learned by every writer out there.

    I’ve had pitch meetings across several areas of interest, as both the “pitcher” and the “pitchee”. Some were strict, structured, and uber-formal; others were “on the fly” meetings that were gifts of happenstance.

    My personal experience leads to this bit of advice: Never go into a meeting with just one project or manuscript to pitch. During one of my first pitches, I was halfway through my well-rehearsed spiel, only to have the person on the other side of the table interrupt me and say, “That’s very similar to something we’ve already got in development. What else you got?” To which I could only reply with a seat-of-my-pants pitch for a screenplay I hadn’t even begun writing yet.

    Thankfully, the producer liked the second idea and went for it. (The hard part was trying to remember later exactly what I had pitched, so I could write the script the producer was expecting.)

    So now I go into any pitch meeting with my number one idea, screenplay, or manuscript ready to lead the charge. But just in case it’s shot down, I’ve got two or three back-up plans. In one case, I ended up selling two pitches at one meeting: my first choice, and one of my back-ups. It happens, so be ready for it!

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Michael,

      Very GOOD point about having something in your pocket. That’s the way to be prepared. I’ll add that to my list for future reference. That happened to me once…then, I pitched an idea I hadn’t started (still haven’t, but it’s on the calendar for 2012) and when I said the protagonist was half-Japanese, the agent’s face lit up. “That’s what I’m talking about!” she said.
      P.S. I’m also going to work on that Horror short story for your review, Mr. Best Director in Atlanta for shorts.

  2. I would like to learn more about how to get to a pitch, lol. I’ve practiced, have more than one project to pitch, but how to get in front of an agent or producer is where I’m falling short.

    Great blog though and its certainly advice I’m going to follow.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      I have found the best way to get that one-on-one time with an agent (not sure about producers, though, I have a friend I’ll ask about that) is to attend conferences, book signings and other book selling events. For example, recently a writer’s group had a conference and sponsored a Friday night cocktail party that was open to the public. I am a member of the group, however anyone could attend the party. I met several agents, made connections, though did not pitch at the social event, and now have connected with them. When I query, I’ll be able to include a note about when and where we met. Also, some writing organiztions host agents and editors as guest speakers, another great way to meet agents.

      Anyone have a great tip on how they meet agents?

  3. Andera Hahs says:

    Nice post. I find out some thing very complicated on diverse blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content off their writers and employ something from their site. I’d want to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your own web blog. Many thanks sharing.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Andrea,

      I am flattered that you wish to use information that I post, and that you’ll give me credit for it. I appreciate that very much. Are there topics you are most interested in?
      ~Linda Joyce

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