Preparing to Pitch

June 4, 2012

In my previous life as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers, a couple of decades before the turn of the century, (I mean like the 1980’s…and 90’s people, not the 1800’s!) when most writing was done on a typewriter and submitted on paper (we didn’t call it a hard copy; it was just paper) using a service that is also nearly obsolete…the United States Postal Service, I obtained most of my assignments through the mail, and a few by telephone. (You have all been warned that I am the Queen of the Run-on Sentence.) So, I didn’t pitch to editors or agents.

Hmmm, wait, I guess I did…twice…yikes, three times…but I’m not sure they count, because I didn’t know what I was doing. I mean one was a freaking wrong number and the others…what I did kind of, well, it was against the rules but I didn’t know it, so it doesn’t count, right? I did get the assignments, so maybe it does. Never mind, I don’t want to talk about that.

Anyway, I’m just going to say that having an opportunity to pitch is a new experience.

Last year at the June OCC RWA meeting, I had an opportunity to pitch my current WIP to an editor. I had no clue what I was doing, and my book wasn’t entirely finished. I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice, so I prepared a small pitch for this editor. Then at the meeting, while I was waiting for my turn to pitch, I listened to feedback from the writers who were pitching before me and made some adjustments. When my turn came, it was a group pitch for six of us, and I was fifth to pitch. As I listened to the other writers’ pitches and the editors’ responses everything changed. When it was my turn to pitch, I abandoned my previous plans and pitched from my heart. Surprisingly, it went pretty well and the editor asked for more.

So now I’m preparing for RWA #2012, here in Anaheim, this July. I have appointments with another editor and agent, and I know there may be other opportunities to pitch. So while I’m busy doing rewrites that I hope the editor I met last year will like, I’m making notes for my new pitch.

The synopsis and the pitch are the two most challenging parts of this for me so far. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Writing a full length novel is a huge challenge, maybe what I’m really saying is writing the synopsis is hard and pitching is terrifying. I mean, you can’t just do a pitch on a piece of paper (you know a hard copy) or by e-mail (you know…never mind, you do know). No, you are face to face with a real person, something that rarely happens for writers, and you have to talk about your creative work. This isn’t like selling a sewing machine…which occasionally I do…this is like offering your child (I know I’m going with Elley and Nicole’s child analogy, because it works). Is it ready? Will they love it the way you do? Will they give it the attention it deserves? How do I get them to see how special my child is?

Let me tell you about my amazing sons! They are each gorgeous, intelligent and talented in their own ways. They have unique charms that make them individually special. My oldest son has a tender heart. He is kind, sensitive and brilliant. He has deep eyes, and from the time he was born I’ve always known that when he looks at you, he can see into your soul. My middle son is full of energy…has been since conception. He can dazzle you with his smile, is an incredible musician and passionate about everything he does. Then there’s the youngest, he has deep rooted values that I greatly admire. He not only has them, but he lives by them and stands up for them. This can be both good and bad. He will call you out when he feels that you are falling short.

You know what? That didn’t end up the way I thought it would. I think I have an exercise for each of you! Take the time to write a blurb about each of your children…then write one about your book. (If you don’t have kids, I have no advice.)

I’m off to work on my pitch.  In the meantime, have you ever given a pitch? Tell us about the experience. Share your pitch here with us if you like! I’d love to hear more (about your children or your book)!




5 Responses to “Preparing to Pitch”

  1. Libby Says:

    OMG, this is a great post. My nerves are already starting to tighten in anticipation of pitching to my dream agent at RWA. I wonder if you’d be interested in meeting up down in Anaheim early in on the conference to practice pitching to each other?

    I have no children. 😦 Will the cat work? Hehe. Not likely.

    “My beautiful old cat is a bundle of love – but only when no one else is around. Unless she’s met you upwards of twelve times, she’ll be very suspicious of your motives, so don’t dare to try and pet her. But when we’re alone, she spends as much time as possible sitting on my lap, purring.”

    Anyway, let me know about Anaheim and thanks for the post!

  2. taristhread Says:

    Libby, first of all….I think the cat pitch works!! Second, e-mail me at and we can meet!! I’d love to practice pitches, or just boost each other’s confidence!!

  3. JanetLee Says:

    Thank you for this post. I am pitching also and breaking out in flop sweat just thinking about it. I’m trying to work up a script to memorize because when I get nervous I either jabber on endlessly like an idiot or my brain freezes and I can’t think of anything to say. Hoping have a few sentences memorized will give me something to ground my thoughts.

  4. Libby Says:

    JanetLee, Tari and I have connected (also on Twitter) and you should too. They all say practice pitching to as many people as possible… I’m LibbyMercer1 on Twitter. 🙂

  5. taristhread Says:

    Libby, what are your twitter handles? I will follow! Will you be at RWA 2012? Would love to meet up.

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