An Unusual Pitch Session
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
During a recent Saturday, I participated in a virtual pitch session. Through zoom (a computer connection), for two and a half hours, I listened to 25 authors pitch their book to me. The sessions were rapid fire and each one lasted about four minutes each.
While I've been going to writer's conferences for many years and meeting writers face to face for their pitches, this session involved no travel for me. I was sitting in my office listening to these authors pitch their work. I understand from the conference director that the writers came from all over the country for this event. Before they pitched, they knew my background and about Morgan James Publishing. I had nothing in advance of my meeting with them—not even their names. I was one of five possible people for these authors to pitch. There were three literary agents and one film producer besides me. Of these varioous professionals, I was the only one who worked directly with a publisher (and can actually issue contracts and publish these books). If you don't know, literary agents are great but they have to sign these authors as their clients for their agency then shop their proposals or manuscripts to a publisher before they get a contract. My publisher work is much more of a direct connection for these authors.
I enjoyed this unusual pitch session. Here's some tips from what I learned—and these tips will work whether you pitch virtually or in person at a conference:
1. Establish a connection with the person. Virtually we greeted each other and exchanged names. In person I often give someone my business card right away to begin the process.
2. Be enthusiastic about your pitch. Each of these authors read their pitch on their computer but some were more polished and at ease than others. Your enthusiasm will show as you are excited about your book.
3. Do more than talk about your book and story. Many authors just stuck to their story and told me about it. Others added a short piece at the end of their pitch about themselves. Remember the editor knows nothing about you and your background and most important your ability to sell books. For example, one author had a moving personal story but also hinted about her own marketing connection with millions of YouTube views. These details matter and will be significant to the editor or agent.
4. Follow-up and actually send your material. From speaking with the conference director, I learned each of these authors have completed their manuscript as a part of this coaching program. In each case they told the status of their project and when they expected to begin submitting their work (often around Thanksgiving).
These oral pitches were terrific and impressive to me as an editor. Through the years I've had many writers give fantastic oral pitches yet their printed work does not match the oral pitch. At the end of the day, it is your writing which is going to win the heart and enthusiasm of the editor. Also I wonder how many of these 25 people will actually send me their material? When they pitched I had nothing from these writers—nothing in print but I'm working to change that and get their contact information so I can follow up. Why? From going to conferences for years, I know without my follow-up, I suspect many will never send me their material—at least this has been my experience from past pitch sessions and hopefully they will be better than the past. Some of those pitches are still in my mind—which means to me they have lots of good potential and I'm eager to get them moving and published.
Have you ever been in a virtual pitch session like I am describing? How did it work out for you? Let me know in the comments below.
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