I attended my first writing conference when I was sixteen-years-old. This is what lead to the publication of my first novel, PURPLE MOON.
Since then, I’ve attended conferences yearly and have grown in my craft, established connections that were beneficial to my career, and made lasting friendships and memories.
But these conferences can be intimidating for newbies — especially if you’re a teen like I was.
A young writer recently asked me,
“I was wondering if you have any advice for pitch appointments? I’ll be attending a conference this fall and it will be my first conference where I’ll be pitching my novel in a formal setting.”
For those of you who don’t know, at a writer’s conference, you have the opportunity to meet with agents and publishers and pitch your book. At most conferences, these appointments last about 15 minutes.
Which means that, as a writer, you must make a great first impression in this short amount of time in hopes that they will request your full manuscript (or proposal).
As a writer, Associate Agent, and Acquisitions Editor, I’ve experienced what it’s like to be on both sides of the table. I’ve learned — through trial and error, and through witnessing the pitches of others — what to do and what not to do.
Here is what you do want to do during these pitch sessions:
- Prepare beforehand. Write a concise tagline of your book that you can deliver during the pitch. Make a list of potential questions the agent or editor might ask. Do your research on who it is that you’re pitching to. You might also want to make a list of questions that you’d like to ask them as well.
- During the pitch, give a brief introduction, then tell the agent/editor your title and genre. Then dive into the concise pitch. If you have a one sheet or sample chapters, ask if the agent/editor would like to see it.
- Remember: passion makes an impression when it’s contained within the boundaries of a professional approach. You want to be passionate about your project, but not so passionate that you begin to ramble.
- Project confidence, not arrogance. Believe in your book and don’t be afraid to tell the agent/editor about your publishing history and writing qualifications. (They will want to know this!)
- Refrain from over-delivering — give them just enough of a hook to wet their appetite for more.You’ll also want to leave time for them to ask questions to you and vice versa.
The most important thing to remember? Relax. Have fun with this! Don’t put pressure on yourself to leave with contract interest, but to share your passion for your book and receive feedback and direction.
The agent/editor isn’t meeting with you to criticize you; in fact, they’re hoping to find projects that they can pursue. Many times they’re happy just to offer their input, even if they may not be interested in the project at the time.
Is anyone else planning to attend a conference soon? Let me know in the comments!
(PS … Are you a young writer? Receive a free PDF just for you when you sign up for my young/beginning-writers only mailing list!)How to Prepare For Pitch Sessions at a Writing Conference @tessaemilyhall #writerslife Click To Tweet