Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Writers’ conference season is in full swing, and many of you are preparing for the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in September. One of the most anxiety-provoking parts of a conference is knowing you’ll need to verbally pitch your book (which I’ve previously covered in Creatively Pitching Your Project and Secrets of a Great Pitch).
Several writers have asked me, why pitch verbally at all, when it’s the writing that matters? Why is so much importance put on the verbal pitch?
Both the query and the verbal pitch serve as an introduction to you and your project, leading the agent or editor to make a decision about whether they want to read some of the manuscript. While the writing matters most, the in-person connection has some advantages:
1. The verbal pitch allows you to express yourself not only with words but facial expressions and gestures.
2. The verbal pitch allows a conversation to develop, in which the agent can ask questions and probe for more information if needed.
3. If you get lost in your pitch or you’re not being clear, the agent can redirect you or help you get focused.
4. There’s the possibility that you’ll “click” with the agent and she’ll really want to work with you, secretly hoping your manuscript is awesome so she can rep you.
5. The in-person meeting allows agents and editors to see how you present yourself. As a published author, you’ll need to be able to talk to people about your book. You may be interviewed, you might do book signings, you’ll probably have some events in which you’ll need to interact and discuss your book. Taking into account that you’re probably nervous at the pitch meeting, agents and editors can still get a good feel for the “public persona” you’ll have as an author. It probably won’t be a deciding factor in whether to request your manuscript, but it’s one piece of information contributing to the whole picture of “you.”
6. The meeting also gives agents and editors an opportunity to glance at a page or two of your manuscript if it’s available during the pitch meeting. Between that and the verbal pitch, we’ll know if we want to see more.
7. Even if the pitch doesn’t go well, the agent/editor may ask you to send your manuscript after the conference. This is an acknowledgment that it really is about the writing. Writers are nervous when they pitch and might not be presenting their book in the best light, so by requesting pages, an agent ensures she doesn’t miss something. She wants to make the most of her conference attendance.
People often ask me whether pitch meetings at conferences are worthwhile and whether anything ever comes of them. I have several clients, all of whom are in the middle of multi-book publishing contracts, with whom I wouldn’t be working except for meetings at conferences. So from my perspective (and probably theirs), pitch meetings are conferences are definitely valuable.
What do you like, or dislike, about the verbal pitch? Which do you think is more effective, the face-to-face pitch or the email query?
Why pitch verbally at all, when it’s the writing that matters? @RachelleGardner on the verbal pitch. Click to Tweet.
“The in-person meeting allows agents and editors to see how you present yourself.” Click to Tweet.
“The verbal pitch allows a conversation to develop.” @RachelleGardner on pitching. Click to Tweet.