Author, Journey, Pitching your Novel, Publishing, Sales, The Muse Crew, Writing

4 Authors – 4 Different Pitches

Meeting Pixabay

Recently, the Muse Crew attended a writer’s conference during which four of the members pitched to attending agents. This was a first time experience for each of us, and even though we each write in different genres, the feedback I received from each member had common threads. I thought others might be interested in our experiences, so I summarized my questions and the responses below:

  1. What type of genre is the story (or stories) you pitched?
    • L – Historical Fiction
    • M – Psychological Fiction
    • S – Literary Fiction
    • D – Fantasy Romance
  2. What type of genre was the agent looking for?
    • L – Various, including Historical Fiction.
    • M – Various, but thought my novel might fit better under Women’s Fiction.
    • S –  Various, stated that Literary Fiction was a “hard sell”
    • D – Fantasy, Romance, and stories with diversity.
  3. What was your “elevator” pitch, or one line “hook?”
    • L – Did not narrow pitch down to one line.
    • M – “What would you do if circumstances made you question reality as you know it?”
    • S – “Mordy is the world expert on a strange Amazonian language. When he goes to the jungle to study the language, he finds himself caught up in the indigenous resistance to the oil companies.”
    • D – “If fate gifted four unsuspecting women with the powers of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, how would it impact their lives and the lives of the men who love them?”
  4. What was the one question you felt was important to ask, and what was the response?
    • L – “What type of story are you looking for in Historical Fiction?” – Agent shared what she needed to take it to a publisher. The more I learned what she was looking for, the more I saw how my own story matched her needs. Once I shared this with her, she was much more interested in my story.
    • M – “If you’re not interested, can you recommend someone who would be?” – Agent agreed to pass on the submission to someone she thought might be interested.
    • S – Did not pose a question.
    • D – “If I have already self-published the first book of a series, would you be interested in my writing?” – Agent shared that while the story sounded like something she would be interested in, she was looking for something that hadn’t been previously published.
  5. Did the agent ask for a submission? If so, what was the outcome?
    •  L – Yes. Stated could be sent whenever it was ready, even if 6 months or a year from now.
    • M – Yes. Agent arranged to have it forwarded to others she thought might be interested. She stated she personally wasn’t in the market for novellas.
    • S – Yes. Submission was sent but was not picked up.
    • D – No. Stated she would not want to see already published work/series, but offered to look at my next piece of work should I chose to submit it.
  6. Was the overall experience positive?
    • L – Yes. It was positive to have a submission requested, and I feel like I understand the process better now.
    • M – “I highly recommend doing this! It forces you to practice describing your work in a concise way, it gives you an idea if your story ideas are interesting to those who market them, and after it’s done, you realize that you need to be able to describe all your works clearly, which in the end, helps you sell books!”
    • S – “Instructive, at least.”
    • D – Yes. The entire process was well worth participating in, even if the outcome was that only my next body of work would be considered. This also gave me a contact whom I have now met, that I can submit to in the future.  The process forced me to think about the core of my story in a simple and impactful way.
  7. Now having experienced your first pitch, what advice would you give a writer preparing for their first?
    • L – “Pitch to an agent in your genre. Research your genre to find out what is currently being sought after, then consider how your story matches. Think of it like a job interview – find out what they want, then share what you have to offer and how you can meet their needs.”
    • M – “Do your research and pitch to the right person for your book. Also, practice that pitch! Don’t wing it. Also, remember agents are people too. Know your book and pitch it in an interesting and concise way.”
    • S – “Keep in mind that they can’t really tell without seeing the work. I think agents misunderstood my genre, and that’s sort of my fault.”
    • D – Practice, practice, practice! Say your pitch until it flows from your tongue naturally and without thought. Also, check out the agents/editors ahead of time and research what they like to represent. Their websites will list what they are looking for and other authors they represent, which will give you an really good idea if you would be a good fit for them. If you have time prior to the pitch, download and read books by authors they partner with.
  8. Any comments or helpful suggestions?
    • L – “Consider what other popular authors in your genre, have a similar writing style to your own. Often agents will ask you about your favorite author or if your writing is similar to any well known author. Agents also like to know if you have published anything else, if you are working on anything else and whether your story is more plot driven or character driven. Be prepared to answer these questions.”
    • M – “Think about where your book would be in a bookstore. What authors would your book fit between (if it wasn’t alphabetical).
    • D – You have less than 15 minutes to shine, so put your best foot forward. Make sure your pitch nails the core of your story in a clear and concise way, and keep the tone conversational. An agent is someone that you are looking to partner with and ultimately you both have to have the same belief that your book is something special. Even if the answer is no, be prepared to ask questions so that you can learn from the experience.

If you are planning on pitching to an agent, the Muse Crew wishes you the best of luck! When you pitch – remember to breathe and have fun with it! And keep in mind, each experience brings you one step closer to your author goals, so be sure to get the most out of everything you do!

For more information on developing your pitch, check out one of my recent posts here.