Before going to the WLT Conference, I read that I should practice my pitch, and that was good advice. But what agents expect from a pitch?
Google didn’t help me much. The information out there — at least what I found — is evasive, or too abstract. But I will be straightforward, and share what I learned at the conference.
- The 3 C’s
Your pitch should contain three elements (the three C’s): character, conflict, and color.
- Character: Give a bit of your character’s personality, and his/her context.
- Conflict: Your hook. What changes in your character’s life?
- Color: Your flavor. What makes your story special?
- Pitches come in different shapes
First, there is the 30 seconds pitch (or elevator pitch): It should have 3 to 4 sentences. Use this pitch when approaching agents informally. They don’t have much time, and they won’t listen forever, so get to the point.
And there is the formal pitch. If you paid for an appointment with an agent, you have about ten minutes, so you can elaborate more.
In my appointment I rushed through the 4 sentences I had prepared, and when I was done, the agent was nodding, expecting more — and I was not ready for that.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Have different versions of your pitch, so whatever happens, you can roll with it.
- Filter your feedback
You should test your pitch with fellow writers before pitching to an agent, but do not change your pitch at every suggestion.
For example, I pitched a man, and he told me I should focus more in the criminal aspect of my book. I made the same pitch to a woman, and she told me she wanted to hear more about the romance in the story.
People have different opinions. There is no right and wrong; you have to filter.
Who is your audience? What is your book genre? My book is women’s fiction, so I listened to the girl’s advice.
- Agents are not created equal, but there are some general rules
Some agents take business cards, some agents don’t. Some agents hate when you compare your novel to movies, some agents don’t care. Just understand that they are people, and that they perceive things differently.
- Don’t say anything personal that is irrelevant to your book. Example: I have a PhD in physics. Is your book about physics? No? So I don’t care. Don’t brag… See the picture? That is how you look when you are bragging.
- What genre the agent is taking? Don’t pitch to an agent that doesn’t take your genre.
- Don’t argue with the agent.
- Last tips:
Try to relax. What is the worst it can happen really? They might say no… big deal.
One gold tip: when querying agents, don’t forget to mention that you were at the conference. Even if you didn’t have the opportunity to pitch that agent in the conference, mention that you were there. It makes a difference.
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