Conquering the Pitch

Write to Publish is having a Pitch Roundtable this year! What’s that, you may ask? Well, good question. The Pitch Roundtable is a chance for emerging writers to get their stories out there. It’s a chance to start up a conversation about your book with a live agent. Terrifying? Maybe, but I have some tips for that later on.

We’re pleased to announce both Ooligan’s acquisitions team and representatives from MacGregor Literary Agency will be present at the Pitch Roundtable. Ooligan Press is looking for literature from the Pacific Northwest, specifically young adult, literary fiction, and nonfiction. MacGregor Literary Agency is looking for literary fiction, commercial fiction, women’s fiction, romance, and thriller/suspense fiction.

Helpful Tips

Sometimes telling others about your book can be a little nerve-racking (“what if they don’t understand my carefully crafted plotline?”); pitching it to an agent can be downright terrifying. Here are some tips to help you conquer your anxiety:

  • Prepare—Unless you’re a speech pro, this will be a scary experience. So prepare for it. Come up with a two-to-three-minute pitch about your book in which you boil down your story to four or five sentences. Basically, explain who is trying to do what and why. Include the main character, the main antagonist, what’s at stake, and the obstacle or conflict. Also include genre, comparable books, and why it’s different or exciting.
  • Practice—Practice your pitch in front of a mirror, or better yet in front of whoever will listen (family, friends, other attendees). Practice it so often you can say it in your sleep, so much you can spit it out at will, as many times as it takes for you to stave off that tongue-tied feeling. When the time comes to deliver the pitch to the agent, you’ll know it by heart. Yes, nerves will still spike through your system, but at least your pitch will be perfect. After all, you’re not there to have a conversation over coffee—you’re trying to convince the agent to consider your story.
  • Research—Yes, research. Know ahead of time what agencies will be there. For this conference, make sure to look at Ooligan Press and MacGregor Literary Agency. Research what books they publish and be sure to know where your manuscript fits in the publishing world. Is it romance, fantasy, nonfiction? Who are your readers? As I said before, find a comparison book, one that’s already been published and is similar to your own. But be sure you can point out the differences, too.
  • Accept Criticism—Let’s say the agent isn’t interested in your story, but has some constructive comments. Don’t freak out about it! It’s their job to help writers get better, and sometimes that means they have to point out the problems. Thank them for their feedback and ask questions if anything is confusing. Be sure to be graceful. It never hurts to bring a copy of your synopsis and business card with you to give to them after your five minutes are up.

Pitching can be scary, but it’s an awesome opportunity for writers to get their stories out there. Write to Publish is giving you that opportunity. Pitching at the Roundtable is free for Write to Publish full-price ticket holders, but donations are always welcomed. We ask you to sign up for the event; however, drop-ins are also okay.

For more information about Write to Publish, check out our website.

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