While doing some research for a homework assignment, I noticed that many people were saying that the pitch can either be written in a letter or verbally delivered. In my opinion, this definition muddles it up a bit, so erase it! Here’s what you need to know about the pitch.
1. Generally speaking, the pitch is verbal. When you have the chance to meet with an editor or agent, you deliver your pitch to them. A written pitch is more akin to a Query Letter.
2. Do your research. When preparing to pitch your manuscript, do a little research on the person you’re pitching your work to. See what kind of books they’ve worked on in the past. You want to make sure you’re pitching to the right person. You don’t want to pitch your supernatural thriller fiction to someone who works on romance fiction.
3. Hook them early. You only have a limited time (10 minutes, if you’re lucky, they’re busy, busy, busy) that you’re meeting with an editor/agent, so make sure you get their interest early. Which leads me to…
4. Keep it brief. Try to boil your book down to 3-5 good sentences that thoroughly explain your manuscript. Like I said, you have limited time. So, you want to pitch your story and allow time for possible conversation (Q&A) about your manuscript.
5. Practice, practice, practice! It’s good to write your pitch out first, then practice it until you can deliver it smoothly. You don’t want to take notes with you. You want to be perfectly prepared.
6. There are different techniques for fiction and nonfiction. For fiction – divide your pitch into three main points: setup, hook, resolution. For nonfiction – your title should clearly convey what the book is about, explain your book and your qualifications to write on the topic, who your audience is and how you intend on promoting it.
7. In a short meeting like this, you want to sell the agent/editor on you – the writer – and your talent. If interested, they will follow up with you. But don’t try to force your manuscript into their hands right then and there. Sell it, yes. However, most first time authors meet potential agents at writing conferences. In situations like this, they’re not willing/able to carry your partial or full manuscript around with them. If they are interested, they will follow up and ask for you to send your manuscript to them.
In the end, it’s a short meeting – a short pitch. Be confident. Prove that your manuscript is worth their time, and that you’re devoted to it. In short, sell it.