Is pitching your worst nightmare? Do you quake in your shoes just thinking about it? Are you a fearful public speaker who would rather have all your teeth pulled (at once) than have to sit across from an agent or editor and pitch? If you are, read on!
I adore Lisa Kleypas. Not only is she a hugely talented author, she’s a savvy businesswoman, too. Lisa is far beyond the pitching stage of selling books. But the following is a YouTube video I found on her Facebook author page that she did to promote the release earlier this year of her book Rainshadow Road. I think it’s very instructional for those of us who are in the process of pitching their manuscripts to editors and agents.
I studied it carefully before I pitched my manuscript this past weekend at the fabulous New Jersey Put Your Heart in a Book Conference.
Watch the video and see how she does it.
What I learned from watching this:
–Lisa speaks in a very conversational style, i.e., she’s not looking clutching an index card with white knuckles and reading her pitch. She’s informally telling you about her book, as if you were sitting across the table from her (yet it is carefully worded and the information is carefully planned).
–You leave excited about her book. Why? Because she’s excited about it!
–She speaks about her characters like they are real people.
–She is confident in the story. She’s not cringing or embarassed or chuckling nervously. She believes in her story–she’s proud of it!
–She uses her hands for expression.
–She smiles and looks directly at the camera.
–She keeps it short.
–Now look at your pitch. Have you spent so much time getting it to be under 50 words or to 3 sentences that you’ve neglected to check for how conversational it sounds? Try reading it out loud, then changing the verbs to sound more like conversation–more informal.
–My worst fear in the world is fear of blanking out when I pitch (well, okay, maybe not my worst fear but it seems like it at the time!). I am an index-card clutcher and I suffer greatly. But this fear can be overcome. I know because I did it!
–The key for me was practice. Even if you have to write out a conversational-sounding pitch and memorize it by saying it over and over–DO IT. Make yourself practice in front of someone who loves you. FORCE YOURSELF. When I pitched to an editor and an agent this weekend, I was able for the first time to do it without index cards (although I did bring them with me just in case). But it took a ton of practice. Some people may not have to deal with this kind of stress but those of you who do…you know who you are! And if I can do it, you can too!
–Remember, most editors/agents you pitch to will request pages from you. And guess what I heard at the conference from Bob Mayer? 90% of people who are asked for submissions at pitch sessions don’t even send them? So don’t be in that majority!
–A pitch is a marketing tool. It’s the first impression the agent or editor gets–of you and your book. Work hard to make it a good one. If all else fails, remember, it’s only eight minutes. Anyone can survive that! If I did, you can too!