Pitching Your Work in Person

We tend to focus a lot on the query letter side of pitching, but tonight Crystal and I are teaching a workshop for SCBWI West on pitching your work to an editor or agent in person. We thought it was especially appropriate since many writers we know are gearing up for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

The basic unit of a pitch is the single line description of your story – often called the “elevator pitch”. The idea is that if you find yourself in an elevator with an agent or editor, you should be able to hook them on your story before the doors open. A good pitch needs to convey the following pieces of information in 15-20 seconds:

  • Character: who is the story about?
  • Setting: where is the story set?
  • Desire: what does the character want?
  • Opposition: what is keeping them from getting it?

The next level of pitch is when you have an appointment with an agent or editor and they are ready to give you a few minutes of their time. Even if your appointment is for 5 or 10 minutes, it’s best to refine your actual pitch to 2-3 minutes max. A few key things to keep in mind during your appointment:

  • Focus on benefits. What makes your story unique? What is your target audience and why will they like this particular story?
  • Include your credentials, but focus on the story. Your qualifications are important, but pitch time should be spent primarily on the project at hand.

I came across a post by Alan Rinzler on Red Room on exactly this subject. It’s brief and to the point, but it covers all the basics. Definitely worth checking out.

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