By Deb Werksman
Since we're all gearing up for RWA in Orlando next week, I thought today's blog could give you an editor's perspective on what makes a great in-person pitch.
Here are the qualities of the very best pitches I've ever heard:
The author knows what the book is and tells me right away so I can listen for what I know is important in that subgenre.
The pitch is about as long as it might take to read the book's back cover copy out loud. It's not a long plot summary, but it does give away the ending so I come away with a complete sense of the book.
I can hear 2-3 sentences to sell the project with. I come away knowing exactly how I'm going to position the book for my sales/marketing/PR/design departments.
Grab me with something I haven't heard before and you'll have me eating out of your hand!
Let your voice shine through! If I can get a sense of the writing from the pitch, that's fantastic!
The author clearly checked my submission guidelines in advance and knows what I publish (and what I don't) so this is a pitch for something I might actually be interested in!
It is totally fine with me if you have questions for me, in fact I love it as it allows us to have a great conversation most of the time. You don't need to have it all figured out. Intelligent questions are great in a pitch session.
The author appears professional and talks to me in a professional manner (you'd be surprised :-).
YOU MAY NOTICE
I didn't say anything at all about performance--I don't care if you're nervous, I don't care if you read off of index cards or have the pitch typed out ahead of time. I know that pitching in person is nerve-wracking, and that you want to do your very best. As long as you don't come across kooky, you're ahead of the game.
I CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR ALL YOUR PITCHES AT RWA.
PS A word about etiquette.
I do not mind being pitched on the fly if you run into me in the elevator, on line for coffee, or in the ladies room (as long as I'm not actually in a stall at the time). I'm told I'm unique in this regard, but I know there are many more authors who want to pitch to me than there are time slots, so if you serendipitously run into me, go for it! I mean it!