I just got back from the annual Realm Makers writers’ conference, where I had the opportunity to pitch my manuscripts to agents. Plenty of other people have posted about how awesome Realm Makers is and why you should go, so I won’t do that except to say it is and you should.
But one of the main benefits of conferences in general is that they provide the opportunity to sit down, face-to-face, with people in the industry. People who could help propel your career. People who wield a certain amount of power.
These people, agents and acquisitions editors, get hundreds and hundreds of queries. They see a lot of story ideas and read a lot of writing. The blind query is always an option, assuming they accept unsolicited queries, but the chance to talk to them and tell them about your work, to make an impression, is unique and unparalleled as far getting heard.
And that can be really, really intimidating, especially if you haven’t done it a lot.
So, for those who are planning on pitching at some point in the future, here are my top three tips:
- Be Pacific
I know, it’s a weird word, but I needed something that starts with a “p”. What I mean is, calm down. I’ve talked to agents who said some people can’t talk because they can’t breathe they’re so nervous. Some have even said the people who meet with them are in tears.
Calm down! Agents and editors are just people. They won’t bite you. Not in public, anyway. They want to help you. They want to hear your story. They want to hear what you’re doing. Take some deep breaths, relax, and enjoy the experience.
2. Be Prepared
One of the best ways to stay calm is to know that you’re prepared. Have a one-sheet with your pertinent information. Have print-outs of your first few pages. Have a business card. Practice your pitch.
The more prepared you are, the less scary it is to pitch. Nothing will damage your calm like feeling unprepared, so save yourself the frazzled feeling and be as well-prepared as possible.
3. Be Passionate
This is your story, your baby. You have spent countless hours writing, researching, editing, rewriting, and polishing this. You know the story inside and out. You’ve spent time with the characters and you know them better than you know some of your family members.
Talk about them. Talk about what happens. Talk about the research that went into your story and your characters. Have a conversation, like you would with an old friend you met for coffee if they asked “What’s your book about?” Just tell about your book. Don’t stress about it, don’t panic, don’t overthink it. Just talk.
This is your baby. You have plenty to say.
Good luck on your next pitch session!