How do you feel about pitching your book to a literary agent face-to-face?
- Sounds like a dream come true! Sign me up!
- I’ll sign up for it (but I may back out).
- Do I have to?
- I’m afraid that I may pass out from nerves or do something embarrassing before I finish my pitch.
- Other: ___________________________
One of the most effective methods for attracting and landing a literary agent is pitching your non-fiction book or novel in person to a literary agent. While this pandemic has pelted us with one lemon after another, increased accessibility and affordability of online writing conferences have created many sweet glasses of lemonade.
So today’s post is for anyone who answered “2” “3” “4” or ”5.” We’re going to walk through how to pitch your project to a literary agent.
- Sign-Up for Multiple Pitch Appointments.
When my adult kids were in high school, I told them that that they would take the ACT college entrance exams at least three times. I didn’t want their college dreams to depend on a single test that they only took once. When my kids knew that they had multiple chances to take the test, they relaxed. Even though I knew that I’d be paying for multiple exams, the return-on-investment of their mental health and better performance was worth it!
This same philosophy applies to pitching your book. While you can sign up for a single appointment, chances are you’ll be putting all your publishing hopes and dreams on that one 10-minute or 15-minute appointment. That’s too much pressure.
However, if you knew that you were pitching your project more than once, you could reduce the pressure on yourself. It’s hard to sell your project when you’re stressed, so give yourself the gift of multiple opportunities.
- Write Your Book Hook or Summary for Your Pitch.
One of the primary fears that people express around pitch appointments is forgetting what they want to say. Thankfully, that’s an easy problem to fix!
Write your two- or three-sentence project summary (also known as your elevator pitch). This is the best way to alleviate the anxiety around forgetting what you’re going to say. Writing out your hook or summary also prevents what I like to call “roaming to the point.” This happens when a writer isn’t sure what a literary agent wants to hear so they include as much of the book as possible in the hope that something stands out. The drawback of this accidental strategy is that often the person talks for so long that the appointment runs out, and the agent can’t ask questions or is confused by all the information.
You don’t have to memorize your book summary, and no one is going to care if you read it. Simple and clear is better than unrehearsed and rambling.
Next Step: If you haven’t done so, consider preparing a one-sheet before your agent appointment. You can include your summary and other details about your project. Click here for information on how to prepare a one-sheet.
- Don’t Pursue Perfection, Aim for Authentic Personality.
Free yourself from the pressure to prepare the perfect book pitch.
Pitching a book is never about perfection. Literary agents aren’t looking for a perfect book pitch, we’re listening for great book ideas, and we want to work with wonderful people.
Whenever I begin a pitch session, I like to say: “Tell me three things about yourself that have nothing to do with your book project or writing career.”
I began opening meetings that way years ago as a life coach because people tend to relax when they talk about themselves. I want to help people relax before pitching their book and as a bonus, I find out interesting facts about people.
Not every literary agent or editor will ask you about your background or life, but I encourage you to make sure that you drop in two or three nuggets about who you are and what you love. This is important because a literary agent can hear up to fifteen or twenty pitches in one day, so you can increase their chances of remembering you by making sure that they get to know something about the real you.
Next Step: What are three things about you that a literary agent or editor should know? Find ways to incorporate these three things into your conversation to help them get to know you and hopefully, help you to stand out from the crowd.
JOIN TODAY’S CONVERSATION: How do you handle the nervousness before pitching to an agent or editor? Which one of today’s three book pitch prep tips was most helpful for you?