Monday, 27 August 2012

Pitching pitfalls

The pitch seems to be a ubiquitous part of a writers road to publication. There are different types of pitch, the standard one we put in our submission letter to try and tempt the agent/publisher to keep reading. Generally this is relatively easy to write. If you're having problems can I recommend Nicola Morgan's ebook "Dear Agent" which covers everything to do with submissions.
 The really hard pitch is the one you have to do in person in a short space of time. The very thought of it is enough to send most writers (including me!) into a tizzy of stress and worry.
I'm not quite sure why, I speak in front of lot's of people every day for my job so it's not public speaking that bothers me. I think it's more the actual SELLING part that I find hard. I do feel enthusiastic about my work and I do think everyone should read it but I find it incredibly hard to make that come across.
 I think it's partly a British thing. A sense of reserve if you will. After all I don't want people to think I'm arrogant or anything. I'm more likely to say "it's quite good, you might like it but don't worry if you don't, it's probably not that good after all..."
 The reason I'm worrying about it is that I have a few pitching opportunities coming up, I'll be at the Foyles event on the 21st Sept doing a one to one pitch to a Curtis Brown agent and then a week later I'll be at the SCBWI agents party where many agents will endure many pitches from many a desperate author.
 So I've been trying to think of how to do a good pitch and have come up with some useful points;

1. Stay calm. Panic makes you talk faster.
2.BREATHE. In between sentences. Very useful.
3.Focus on your story, give a short, two or three sentences that sum it up and will entice someone to read more. Let your enthusiasm shine through.
4. Remember that whoever you are pitching to is a real person. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Be polite and courteous. Don't pounce on them while they're eating, going to the loo or otherwise occupied.
5. Keep an eye on the glazed eye scenario. If your agent is looking tired, fed up or cross, don't approach them!
6.Be yourself, you're  lovely person, let them know that by not harrassing them, demanding immediate feedback or thrusting your entire m.s into their hands.
7. RELAX. No agent or publisher is going to judge you entirely on your pitch. It's your writing that counts always. But you could put them off wanting to read it if you let panic get the better of you.

 I hope this helps you and I hope I can follow my own advice when the day comes round! If you have any other advice please share it.


  1. Really helpful advice, Lorraine, thanks.

    1. Thanks Lorrie! Now if I can just remember to use them next month I'll be fine...

  2. Gah! I am totally panicking about this, Lorraine. Your tips are great but I'm still panicking. Aaaaaaah!

    1. Miriam you'll be fab! And just look at it as an opportunity to practice, if you do fluff it up chances are you won't do it again next time. Hopefully;)

  3. Thanks for posting this information. Very useful. I am also attenting the Agents Party in September, so don't know what to expect. I have the terrible habit of stuttering my words when I am nervous or when i'm trying to explain something to someone I don't know, as well as going beetroot (its a nervous thing) I think. I havent got a clue how to pitch, but i'm sure I'll be fine (sort of)!!! Eeeeek.

    1. Glad you found it helpful Jean, perhaps we can catch up at the party and have a quiet meltdown together!! ;)