Monday, October 17, 2011

The Elevator Pitch

On the October 21-22, I’m attending the New Jersey Romance Writers "Put Your Heart in a Book Conference." I’m not pitching, but several of my friends are. When I saw this article “Prepare Your Elevator Speech” by Margot Carmichael Lester, MonsterContributing Writer on Yahoo, it got me to thinking about how these five points could be adapted to work for an elevator pitch with an editor/agent.
1—Focus on the book
If you haven’t done so, come up with a high concept, one-sentence blurb of your book. The higher the concept the better. Think about what makes your book stand out, and yet, what makes it the same. Focus on the goals, motivations and conflicts of your characters.
2—Do your homework
Know why you want published or represented by this person. What makes him/her special? Have you taken a workshop with him/her? What makes this person your dream editor/agent or publisher? What books by this publisher have you read? Or if it’s an agent, do you read the authors he/she represents? You may not have to bring up any of this, but if in the course of your conversation, he/she asks any of these questions, it would be better to be prepared.
3—Be professional
This should really go without saying. We all have the knack of pointing out a fake. Don’t tell the editor/agent you’re best writer ever. Don’t brag and don’t kiss up. If you’re published, bring it up, but don’t make things up. Don’t blame others. I know, sounds like common sense. But we all know how that seems to be in short supply sometimes…
4—Keep it short
We are all busy people and editors/agents are some of the busiest. Keep your pitch focused and interesting.
The best thing you can do is write out your entire pitch. Then practice, practice, practice. Aloud and in front of a mirror. Pretend your reflection is the editor/agent of your dreams. Make notes of where you can improve. Try to reduce your nervous habits. Make it sound natural by varying your tone of voice. Become familiar with the script, but don’t become so focused on memorizing the script until you can’t think of anything else. This is where knowing as much as possible about the editor/agent is important. If he/she asks you a question, you’ll still be able to keep your cool and give an intelligent answer. Have your friends—writer friends who are familiar with what you are doing are best, in my opinion—to critique your pitch. It might even be a good idea to have them role play with you by asking questions about your story that are not covered in the pitch, or to ask you one of the questions mentioned in Number 2 to practice those answers as well.

Good luck!


christine warner said...

Nice post :) Great tips and reminders Sara! Funny how some seem like common sense but when you are on the spot and nervous, I'm sure some of those good intentions slip right through the cracks of the elevator doors.

Hope you have fun at your conference. I've always wanted to attend one and am hoping someday soon I'm able!

Anonymous said...

Great Tips,
Thanks for sharing!

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Sara ~ And practice, practice, PRACTICE!!! Because when the adrenaline is blowing through your veins at mach speed, you have to work on auto-pilot. That includes having answers at the ready for questions like: What type of advertising and promotions are you willing to do? Why are you interested in my agency? What makes your story different from the others out there?

Ahhh!!! *hint* bring notes! Have fun! Conferences are a great experience. You'll come out of it totally pumped up.

D'Ann said...

Super tips, Sara.

I pitched once, after a full-blown panic attack. It wasn't pretty! The editor did ask for the full, Leslie Wainger, as a matter-of-fact.

D'Ann said...
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Jennifer Lowery (Kamptner) said...

Pitching terrifies me! I'm an introvert by nature and I would much rather pitch in a query instead of face to face. But, it's a necessary evil for writers so I will be making notes of your post for when it happens to me :)

Martha Ramirez said...

Great tips. Thank you, Sara!

Brenda said...

Fantastic tips.
LOL, I know no matter how much I would practice, I'd still flub it up somehow. My nerves would get the better of me. Or I'd race through my pitch and it would end up sounding like nothing but a jumble of incoherent babble.