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.
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.