With conference season upon us, quite a few authors will be tearing their hair out while they try to perfect their pitches. In an attempt to protect hair follicles everywhere, I’ve compiled a few tips on how to prepare for pitching your manuscript to a prospective editor or agent. Much like surviving a hook-up on Tinder, a pitch appointment can start off rather awkward but end up being a mutually rewarding, long-lasting relationship if there’s a match!
Engage in Cyberstalking (but not in a creepy way)
Do your research ahead of time. Check out the agents and editors you’re pitching to on social media or the agency/publishing house website. Find out if they’ve signed any new big deals or if any of their clients/authors have won a recent award and offer congratulations. Do NOT admit to checking their Twitter account five-hundred times a day or bring up something personal you saw on their Facebook profile. It’s good to let them know that you know who they are but you don’t want them to think you’re watching their every move (even though you might be creeping on them just a little bit.)
You may want to deck yourself out in a pencil skirt with stiletto heels, but if you’ve got bunions and haven’t worn anything but flip flops in the past twelve months, you might risk falling flat on your face. Protect yourself from an embarrassing snafu by making sure you dress in something that makes you feel confident, capable and comfortable. You’ll do a much better job of selling yourself if you’re not worried about a wardrobe malfunction. Trust me on this one, okay?
Practice Makes Perfect
Your writing buddies have told you to do it. Your mentor has mentioned it a bazillion times. The old saying still rings true… “Practice makes perfect.” Or at least when it comes to pitching, practicing your pitch ahead of time makes you more likely to actually say something about your manuscript when you sit down. You know, as opposed to saying something about a prospective agent’s shoes. Or an editor’s change of hair color. Not that I would know anything about either one of those embarrassing scenarios.
Smile…even though you’re nervous and scared shitless inside. If you do manage to show your pearly whites, not only is it likely that the person across the table will smile back at you, but it will also make you look friendly, even if you feel like you might be about to vomit. (Do NOT vomit. Under no circumstances is vomiting acceptable. Not even if you have food poisoning or caught the bird flu on the plane.)
Seal the Deal
If the appointment seems to have gone well, go ahead and ask the agent/editor if you can send them your manuscript. The worst they can say is no. And if they do say no, that’s okay. Rejection is a bitch but I always figured that every no/no thank you/hell no I received meant I was one step closer to that YES! And if they do say yes, get the hell out of there before they change their mind. (After making sure you know exactly what to send and where to send it.)
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Not only did you survive my tips but you’re also now better prepared for your pitch appointment. I’ll be keeping my digits crossed for you… that your pitches are successful, that you keep your bodily fluids to yourself, and that you receive the enthusiastic YES! YES! YES! that you deserve and crave.
Are you pitching to an agent or editor at an upcoming conference?
Best of luck!