I was privileged to coach a whole group of talented, interesting authors at the WNBA Pitch- O -Rama this April.
The object of Pitch O Rama is expose authors to as many potential agents and publishers as he or she can meet in course of about two hours. Another name for this activity is speed dating with agents.
Here is the dirty secret of Speed dating with agents: they know if you are a match in about 30 seconds. But since that’s a little harsh, we ask them to dutifully sit and listen to an author for at least a full minute.
So, like any meet and greet session, it helps to be prepared.
Here is our advice to authors:
The best way to approach the agent with your pitch is to deliver a very big, broad picture. Think how movies are summarized in two or three sentences, that’s what you need to do for your book as well.
While you’re at it, figure out how to deliver the essence of your project in one sentence.
One author was pitching her children’s story and in a clutter of words the phrase – sparkly adventure – stood out. That was her wow, and I told her to lead with that description.
Once you deliver the wow overview, the agent then can ask for details.
Those details do not include what your main character looks like, nor what he ate for breakfast. Those details do not include the landscape, or modes of transportation. The details are the exciting, animated bones of the book. The details are what we read on the back of a paper back book, and that description inspires our purchase. That’s what you tell the agent next.
Only after those two features, the wow, the brief details do you talk about yourself. Even at this point, it’s not about you so much as it’s about why you wrote the book and your unique qualifications to tackle the subject of the book.
All of this, if done right will consume about two minutes, leaving you free to spend a whole minute discussing the weather.
Does this work? Yes, if you are prepared:
Practice the wow pitch.
Don’t read synopsis (AHHHH don’t read it!)
And know that agents, publishers, editors all have ideas of what works for them, what they like to work with – and if they can’t include your work in their upcoming schedule, it very well may be them, not you.
I know, that never really helped in dating either.