Pitching With Grace and Perseverance

ACFWAdvice, Agents, appointments, Authors and writing, Editors, Encouragement, tips 5 Comments

By Barbara M. Britton @BarbaraMBritton

My pitching days began in 2008. I have pitched to agents and editors in the General Market and to those in the Christian Fiction publishing world. I’ve pitched in person and over Zoom. My shortest time allotment was three minutes, and my longest pitch session was fifteen minutes.

What were some of the craziest things that I heard?

“You sure are put together.” I’m not sure what my powdered nose had to do with my pitch.

“Your hero is a pedophile.” Obviously the age difference between my hero and heroine was an issue.

“I love it. Send me your first page.” That’s it? One page?

Over the years, I learned some wisdom about pitching stories. I’ll use the letter P to help share my insights.

Pray. Ask your friends, family, and fellow authors to pray for your pitching session. Philippians 4:4-7 will remind you not to be anxious and to give your nervousness to God.

Practice. Write your elevator pitch on a notecard or have it on your phone and commit it to memory. If nerves have you blanking, you have a backup ready. Also, write any questions you want answered on your memory device.

Be able to answer this question: “What are you working on now?” I was shocked when I first heard this question. I jumbled through a pitch for a book I was working on. That pitch caught the agent’s attention. I should have been prepared for the inquiry.

Persevere. Above, I mentioned that I started pitching in 2008. I didn’t receive a book contract until 2015. I believe God’s timing is perfect and perfect for me. He knew when I was ready to be published. Ecclesiastes 3:1 speaks to the timing of events in our lives.

Perceive. A pitch appointment is a time for an editor or agent to assess your story or series and your seriousness about writing. But it’s also a time for you to see if you feel you could collaborate well with a particular editor or agent. This is a two-way street writers. Take some of the pressure off of yourself by realizing that you have gifts that you bring to the relationship.

Briefly, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of a pitch.

Pitching Advice from A Seasoned Pro @BarbaraMBritton #acfwwritingcommunity #writing Click To Tweet

Introduce yourself and know the title of your story, the genre, the word count, and what imprint it would fit into at a specific publisher. Be sure to mention the setting.

If you’re unsure of your genre, search for similar books on Amazon and look at their categories. Knowing your category is key. I haven’t seen the Mystery Horror Romance category on Amazon.

Second, give a brief synopsis of your story. I’m talking one or two sentences. What is your main character’s occupation, their goal, and why they cannot reach their goal.

Let the agent or editor ask you questions about your story. You created the characters and manuscript, so this part should be easy.

Send in any requests by the editor or agent as soon as you can.

A partial is usually the first three chapters of a story. A full request is the entire manuscript. If you don’t get a request, you are still making progress at finding the right professional for your work.

If you have a few extra minutes, don’t waste the time. Have a few questions ready that you are curious about. Is the market for your genre hot right now? Do you know of another agent who would represent this story?

Always be polite, gracious, and thank the editor or agent for their time.

Writers love to talk about their stories. In a pitch appointment, there is a professional excited to listen.

Barbara M. Britton writes Christian Fiction from Bible Times to present day. Her Tribes of Israel series brings little-known Bible characters to light. Her novel “Christmas at Whispering Creek,” is a compelling, yet fun, story shining a light on breast cancer. Barbara has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.


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