Pitching Your Manuscript

One of the scariest things an author does in the course of selling a manuscript is to face an editor or agent to give a 7-minute pitch.  It’s a horrible experience because agents and editors have been known to eat an author on the spot.  Without warning.

Okay, now that you’ve said, “That’s ridiculous,” and hopefully allowed a little grin to escape, you’re ready for this article.  Just don’t expect a perfect plan for a pitch.  Pitches, like manuscripts, are different depending on the author and the story.  So here are some things to think about as you pull together your pitch.

  1. If you are pitching to an editor/agent who is looking for the type of manuscript you’re pitching (ie: historicals, paranormals, etc) they will most likely request a partial.  They know you’re terrified and they are usually very nice people (except for the author eating ones).  So relax.  It’s the pages that sell the book, not the pitch.
  2. Now, what to actually pitch?  Most authors will do a quick synopsis of their story.  A rundown of the goals motivations and conflicts of the hero and heroine is a good start.  Try to put your GMC into a statement that goes something like this:  (Hero) wants or needs __________ because ________ but ________ so he does________.  If you can fill in those blanks for both the hero and heroine, you will have your basic GMC and action plan.  If you are not clear on GMC, consider reading Deb Dixon’s book, Goals, Motivations and Conflicts. It’s a must for fiction writing.
  3. After nailing down the GMC, consider pointing out what makes your story unique from all the others in your genre or how you designed your characters.

      Example:  “I like heroes who are alpha, clever and a little on the ornery side.”

      Or how your perspective on the premise makes it unique. 
      Example: “My grandmother was a midwife in Appalachia in the 1890’s, so my heroine’s character is based on her life.”

  1. Now a little about what to avoid.  Avoid attempting to tell the entire story.  Seven or eight minutes will not allow you to do that and the agent/editor will not remember it anyway.  You may want to consider writing a one -paragraph summary of your story with word count, title and your name, and asking the agent/editor if they’d like to have it during your pitch.  Many will be thankful for it and use it to take notes on.  Make sure you have your contact information on the sheet.
  2. Dress professionally.  No sweat pants or t-shirts.  If you have a black suit, wear it.  If you don’t, consider buying one. 
  3. And last, but definitely not least, don’t be nervous.  That’s easier said than done, but if you look and act professional, they will remember that more than the premise.

Now, don’t pass out, don’t panic and make sure you practice your pitch.  Make a few notes, smile, dress nicely and shake her hand and introduce yourself when you walk into the pitch.  Then when you leave, count your fingers.  Some of the agents/editors only take a snack.

Good luck.




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