At The Write Stuff conference, literary agents, Blair Hewes (Durnham Literary) and Katie Grimm (Don Congdon Associates) did a wonderful session on pitches. They gave a handout and here it is for you all to learn from:
Tuning Your Pitch: The Essential Notes
1. Create a Pitch
DO: Fiction - use WHO, WHERE/WHEN, WHY, and WHAT to brainstorm and the Main Character, Call to Action, Challenge they Face to focus. Non-fiction - tell us WHAT need your book is fulfilling, WHY we need to know now, and WHO you are. Practice your pitch to anyone who will listen.
DON'T: Try to summarize all of the plot points or use generaic sweeping statements that could apply to many projects. Don't dwell on personal details that aren't pertinent to your qualifications as a writer.
2. Come Prepared
DO: Practice some more. Bring a cheat sheet with key words in case you lose your place, some research on the agents you're about to meet, and any uestions you may have. Also, bring a pen and paper for taking notes.
DON'T: Bring material for the agent to take home like business cards o sample material - they'll tell you how to send your projects to them later.
DO: If you need a moment to settle in, ask a simple question to break the ice. As soon as you're ready, give your pitch, and speak slowly enough for the agent to be able to process it.
DON'T: Read your pitch word-for-word for the agent - it's okay if you need to refer to your notes, but simply reciting your pitch or giving the agent something to read is a waste of a great opportunity to have a fun and informative conversation about your work.
DO: Be ready for the agent to ask you some questions and give feedback - take notes if you need to. Someimes agents will give advice that might require revisions, so be open to this sort of dialogue.
DON'T: Dismiss their feedback outright. While you might not agree with their assessment, take the time to understand their points.
DO: Ask if the agent wants to see your material. If you discussed specific revisions, ask if they want you to revise first. Find out exactly how many pages they want, and how it should be delivered. Keep things professional regardless of the answer.
DON'T: Feel rejected if the project is not for the agent. There are hundreds of reasons that agents don't request projects, and their decisions is more about how they do business than your skill as a writer. You've just had the opportunity to practice your pitch and get some feedback.
If there's time left, you can ask any other questions you haveL about your next book idea, publishing industry terminology, blogs to follow, or favorite books read latetly.
7. Have fun!
This was a great learning experience, and with so much helpful information, I thought you all would enjoy it. I'll post more information about the conference throughout the rest of the week, although tomorrow Jen Wylie visits my blog for a fun interview.