Laura Drake is back for the second segment of Fearless Pitching! If you missed the first post, click here.
Before we get on to THE day, a bit of philosophy to remember when you look in the mirror that morning:
If you don’t get a request for a partial, The Gatekeepers are not rejecting YOU.
They don’t know you. And from your pitch, they don’t even really know your book – they haven’t read it!
Think about it; if you’re working a bake sale, and someone buys chocolate chip cookies instead of your oatmeal raisin, are your feelings hurt? That person just liked chocolate chips better that day, right?
Okay, gird your loins, put on your armor (business clothes), and and on to the appointment!
Tips for THE Day:
- Agents and editors are human. Listening to pitches all day is wearing. They want to make a good impression as much as you do – they’re representing their companies. So. Ask how their day is going. Ask if they’re enjoying the conference. Take them chocolate! I’m serious. I fill my pockets with bite-sized, individually wrapped chocolate (I don’t use Hershey kisses, though…seems just a bit too suck-up for me.) Not only will you make a good impression, but the sugar rush will increase their attention span when they’re listening to YOU!
- Dress professionally, but comfortably. If you have the choice between two outfits, chose the one that you feel more comfortable in. Trust me, they’re not going to remember what you wore, and you’ll be more relaxed if you’re not worried about bulges, gaps, and sore feet.
Put on your attitude with your clothes. You are no longer an artiste. You are a business person, selling your product. Straighten your spine, walk confidently.
Behave as if.
You know what that is, right? Behave as if you are already successful. Honestly, this was one of my best skills as a CFO. No one ever knew I was afraid someone would call me out and expose me as a fraud. They looked at me and saw an executive. That helped me believe that I was. It worked for 25 years. Seriously, try it. It’s one of the little-known powers of the Universe.
- Warm up – You have introduced yourself, shook their hand, and sat. You asked about their day, and offered chocolate. They’ll make the next step easier by asking about your book. Before you launch into your pitch – tell them:
- It’s complete at ‘x’ words
- Then start your pitch
- After – Thank them for their time. They’ll let you know if you can send them a partial, and how to do that. Shake their hand once more, stand, walk away. You survived! But wait, are there more opportunities?
Most of my in-person pitching was done at the RWA National Conference, but I can’t imagine it’s very different at any other conferences. Every time slot had people chicken out (I know, I couldn’t believe it either.) An agent/editor would then have to sit, cooling their heels, for an appointment slot. At RWA, they’d ask those sitting waiting for their appointments to see if anyone wanted to take this empty slot.
Why not pitch to them? You spent a bunch of money to go to the conference, and I’ll bet the pitching was one of the major reasons you went. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to get your book in front of more decision-makers?
After my appointment, I’d always stalk – lurk – um, wait to have additional opportunities. One memorable conference, I had two appointments, but pitched to ten agents.
They were looking for a different genre than my book? I pitched them anyway. Hello – they KNOW the other agents at their agency – if they liked my pitch, they gave me their business card, with the appropriate agent’s name on the back, and told me to tell the that person that I was recommended by them. See? It works!
At the very least, I had the opportunity to practice in front of real live agents, and got more comfortable with my pitch. Honestly, you do this ten times, and you’re going to be more relaxed on the tenth that you were with the first!
So, are you ready? Do you have any pitching stories that will help those going into battle?
Laura’s second book, Her Road Home, will release August 1. Romantic Times gave it 4 stars!
“A minor motorcycle accident leaves builder Samantha Crozier stranded in Widow’s Grove, Ca. While she recovers, she hires mechanic Nick Pinelli to fix her bike. But while recuperating in town, she finds the house of her dreams to buy and restore, and she realizes that Nick just might be the man to go along with it.
With realistic emotions and nicely depicted characters, this is a powerful story.”
Want to pre-order the book? (You know you do!!) Here’s the links:
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Ah, Laura. You make me wish more than ever that I could use all of what you teach in a one-on-one pitch. Alas, I will not be attending RWA or other conferences this year … but I will use all of this to do better queries, better opening paragraphs or my short “hello” to each agent.
Look forward to reading Her Road Home 🙂
Thanks, Florence! I wish you were going to National too – hard to believe we’ve never met in person!!
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I’d also add to be prepared with a brief description of your other work, even if it’s a WIP. You never know what will grab an agent’s attention.
Great point, Orly!
That’s an excellent point, Orly! That happened to me at DFW Con. If they like you and your voice, they want to know about EVERYTHING.
If you’d like to learn more about the psychology behind acting “as if” I wrote a summary of Dr. Richard Wiseman’s book “The As If Principle”
It’s a brilliant book. Yes, it works. No, it’s not magic, it’s science.
Love it, Joel! Thanks bunches for this.
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