Sunday, March 20, 2005

Pitch Preparation for Conferences

Yesterday I spent most of the day at a small writer’s conference in downtown Phoenix. As an acquisitions editor, I was meeting in short appointments with different writers. These types of meetings are often a standard feature at various conferences.

It’s easy for me to recall my early days attending these conferences, I was petrified to speak with the editors but I knew I needed to get to know them. These brief sessions are important because you are making your first impression on the editor. How do you come across? Organized and confident? Disorganized and unsure? Do you ask questions or plunge ahead into your pitch (not knowing whether you are talking with the right editor or not?)?

As I thinking about the series of people, I met yesterday—the contacts were the entire spectrum.  Some people confidently shook hands with me and introduced themselves. They had a concise project to pitch to me. Others were simply coming to explore an idea or a concept.  Others were shy and I had to coax them to tell me their idea.

The best pitches are practiced pitches. These writers have prepared a short statement (usually in writing) and read it several times. (They don’t have to read it to the editor—not usually a good idea.) Also these writers have some familiarity with the editor and what they publish. They are confident in their pitch because they know they are pitching something of interest to this particular publishing house or this particular magazine. Also the writers with the best pitches come prepared to take notes and listen to the editor.  When the editor speaks, they are taking brief notes and they ask relevant follow-up questions. For more insight, take a look at the guidance in this article.

At most conferences, I am listen to these pitches as an editorAt some conferences, I’m a writer who is pitching to other editors. I’m going to take a personal lesson from these experiences. Then next month my own pitches will be more on track as I briefly meet with some editors. Preparation is key.

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