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Attend any event where you have the opportunity to fine tune and try out your pitch. Verbal pitching is nothing more than a power trip for acquisition agents and editors. Too many false positives and negatives to be useful. Add this irritation to the slump of an exhausted editor or agent, her scant experience in the field [having left an MFA or Journalism program mere months before] and the toe-tapping person waiting behind you at the door, and you can see why so many pitches leap from even a practiced tongue garbled into senselessness. What makes the difference is that I and others choose to persevere and try, try again.

This is indeed a helpful resource :. Thanks again Alan, I will be pitching for the first time this summer and have no idea what I am supposed to do. This is very helpful. The idea is so sincere, open and honest in a business that seems to have some sort of sneaky magic working behind the scenes making it run. I hate query letters or I should say, the query letter system , pitching would be a gazillion times better!

And a yawn in my face before I even spoke from an agent I would not have wanted as a business partner. But perhaps the least kind ones are those who show enthusiasm for your work, only to be revealed later as courtesy or possibly even self-serving. But pitching is an experience! Thanks for the tips! It had never occurred to me to videotape myself — I know actors do that. I did a pitch slam a couple of years ago just to see what the whole thing was like. But I thought it was kind of her. Words to pitch by Alan. I brought an audio recording of a recent speech and gave it to each agent I pitched.

How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips & Techniques for Success

Months later an agent called me out of the blue. It was nothing short of a dream come true. And I worry that all this emphasis on pitching, querying, etc. Better than good, in this climate. The best pitch in the world, plus a mediocre ms. Your blog is very informative and this post, very timely. With Spring trade shows around the corner i. Mastering your book pitch will also help authors efficiently promote their work when conducting interviews. Radio interviews sometimes last 5 minutes total! An author must not eat up all their air time explaining the plot summary.

Sticking to the points you presented, Alan, will certainly help writers perfect their book pitch. For the pitch, the same clarity, authentic passion, sincerity, and economy of language, applies. And remember to present the story first and the author second. But by the way, you can decline to do this pitching stuff at all.

Some of us are not made for the public life. Can you imagine Carson McCullers pitching? Joan Didion has always had a hard time at readings, lectures, and public interviews, though she tries hard to endure them. I had a CEO and mentor who said to always read the tea leaves in the room before starting a pitch — figure out who is the Alpha, take a minute to talk with each person as he or she enters the room and make a personal connection.

If you get stuck, you can then use an anecdote you collected from your conversation, or your knowledge of the room dynamics, to relate the pitch back to the audience and lighten the air. Always remember the pitch is about them, not you. There were ups and downs, but I had a blast, both from my own pitching and from listening to other pitches.

A few observations:. You need to believe in it your pitch, if you want the agent to believe in it. I had two projects, one that, for various reasons, I felt would attract interest. The other project, I was not confident about at all. It was definitely a feedback loop. With just 90s, you really need to boil your project down to the thing that will make people want more. Thank you for all of this. Some of us are not made for the public life, though.

How to pitch fiction that is pure cult-following material is beyond me. Again thank you for your excellent perspective on this business. Always interesting. Very timely. Gives me some things to think about. And, as odd as it sounds, I have TWO sides of the table. The agent really liked us—we had her laughing, but we still got the rejection six weeks later. Running the pitch sessions: Always, always make sure the novel is finished and that you are pitching to the right agent. The New Author Platform allows not only well-established authors, but unknown, first-time beginners to do an end run around the conservative gate-keepers and reach readers directly.

And Part 3. Dramatic Structure. Constructing a Pitch for Building Science. Part 4: Science to the Rescue How do science-as-protagonist stories work? Check out links to three sections of pitch archives along the right. Authors who invest the time and money to attend a writers conference deserve better than a few stressful minutes with a bored, exhausted agent. PR pros, turn your listening ears on.

If it's fiction or memoir, try to capture what the story is about; if it's nonfiction " business, self-help, inspiration, how-to , try to capture what the reader will learn and what your main point is. A common feature now at writers conferences, where attendees can spend 8 to 10 minutes, typically, meeting an agent or editor and pitching an article or book idea.

Some conferences pair writers and agents for ten minutes of one-on-one time, often for an additional fee. Several dozen literary agents are seated in a large room, while authors stand in line for the chance to make a 3-minute pitch to one agent before moving on to the next. That's your sign that they are interested in the concept. Then you have to deliver the goods. An agent is unlikely to try to sell a novel based on a short story or a partial novel. They'll probably want a full novel, so they can be confident they can sell you to a publisher, says a thrice-published novelist. Be sure you get the genre right not just literary vs.

And if you've published successfully, be sure to indicate that, too--as agents make their money as a percentage of sales. If they know you've sold before, they know that chances are you'll sell again. First you send the query. Then, if invited, you send the manuscript.

BREAKING & ENTERING: Killer Query Letter Part 3 - Flip The Odds In Your Favor - Script Magazine

This post is a mini-bible on writing a query letter for your novel. The query letter may be the most important thing you write, so make it compelling. Story structure is important. First sentence: the hook or handle the elevator pitch. Second paragraph: the story itself. Fourth: the author and her credentials. Alston land a three-book deal and a film option at Universal Pictures for his middle grade fantasy series, including Amari and the Night Brothers. Five literary agents reached out to Alston after his Twitter pitch on DVPit-- a pitch event for un-agented creators of historically marginalized communities.

The query Lee shares got a "near-perfect full request rate" from agents. That means stripping your story of all of its frills and addressing its basic elements: genre, setting, character, conflict, and stakes. You have exactly one page to introduce yourself and your novel-just four or five clean, tight paragraphs, each with its own specific purpose. But literary agents do not have the time to read every set of sample pages they receive; agents use query letters to determine which query packet will be read and which will be tossed.


In fact, some literary agents accept only query letters and request sample pages only from writers who present a strong query letter. Young Adult can be whatever you want. It can be epic fantasy. It can be space opera. It can be and often is dystopia. It can be elf romance. It can be funny cancer.

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It can be ghosts and fast cars and serial killers and Nazi Germany and one might even say that it operates best when it karate-slaps all your genre conventions in the face How to pitch a magazine story Queries for magazines and newspapers are different from queries for books.

But often magazine credits are important for pitching a book, so understand how to do them both! Engage with your readers link to others and create relationships. Less is more. Start small. Send pitches, not articles--to an associate editor, on a lower-than-top rung. Present invaluable information. Stick to what you know. Don't send canned emails. Be discoverable.

Write about evergreen topics that appeal to a broad base. Have something to say. And that's just a sampler! In all of my classes and seminars, I assign short cover letters, too. Every year it astounds me that top colleges neglect this simple art. Be authoritative, fresh and "arresting.

Hu, The Open Notebook, Some editors say that in their experience, women are less likely to pitch a story after an initial rejection, whereas men get right back on the horse. Men were more likely than women to pitch one editor again, even if their previous work together did not go smoothly. But women cold-approach editors more readily than men do, among other findings from this survey of science journalists.

But I think pitches are like stories: They should be as long as they should be and no longer than that. It could just be an interesting juxtaposition of ideas or a really cool technology. Plus "worst pitches ever. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. What is the best way to connect with this editor?

How To Write a Great Literary Agent Query Letter

What are the most interesting points of the data? Should I use bullet points or just a few short paragraphs? So what causes an editor to show interest? A memoir is a book-length work of creative nonfiction. And most literary journals don't require a query letter asking in advance if you should send the piece you want to submit. When they say "do your homework" they mean among other things to find out what each agent or editor prefers, and other practical background information.

Two different categories, shelved in different parts of bookstore. For others, it's the beginning of a lifelong journey through en ever-changing landscape. Sarah L: "The truth is, not many authors get the chance to grow with their career over time. The second book is the hardest. If you have that kind of motivation, you can make it happen at any stage of life. Must-read for authors of YA and middle grade fiction.

But those who have one—staff writers at major media outlets, YouTube influencers, those with connections to the film industry—seem to land book deals more easily than others. That kind of clear thinking and intention comes through in queries and makes certain writers and projects stand out more than others. EM: "For a non-fiction writer, a solid platform is essential these days, as is previously-recognized expertise in that particular subject.

This is as helpful an analysis of what authors should know about their rights in the new electronic world as you are likely to read. It starts on pp. Print those pages out and highlight them! Her most valuable comments are on book publishers trying to becoming licensing agents for e-rights while taking a print publishers' share of income and without doing what a licensing agent ought to do, and since authors will very quickly learn how much they can do without the publishers, they are playing a dangerous game.

Authors: there IS no standard on e-publishing terms, so do your homework. At a minimum, read this article. There is a growing demand for 'own voices': the words, dreams, thoughts, and experiences of creators who have historically been marginalized and ignored How to write a book proposal If you don't have experience in book publishing, it is important to understand the process of getting a book published. Although the process has changed and the option of self-publishing is now a more realistic alternative , certain things are still true for getting the imprimatur of a major publisher.

You will almost certainly need an agent to place a book, for example, especially if you're a new writer. To get an agent, send a one-page query first to see if they are interested in receiving your book proposal. If you're seeking a publisher for a novel you'll probably have to write the whole novel first to show that you can pull it off but even then you may start with a proposal and sample chapters. If you're writing nonfiction, you won't normally write the whole thing first, but will sell the concept from a book proposal, a sales piece for the proposed book--to find out if publishers see a potential market for a book on a particular topic and think you have the chops to pull it off and can also attract a big enough audience for the book.

Indeed, you will probably need to sell the book from a book proposal even if you have already written the book, because the acquiring editor needs something to share with colleagues in the editorial meeting where decisions are often made about whether to commission a book and to bid against other publishers for it. Some writers are great at articles but cannot pull off book-length projects or do not instill confidence in a publisher that they can do so.

Figure out how to get Alan on your side

As agent-author Andy Ross says, "As an agent, I can't tell on a first page whether a book will work, but I can usually tell in the first paragraph whether the author has the talent to make it work. In short, how many books can you sell because of "who you are or who you can reach" see Jane Friedman's definition of platform. How many followers do you have on social media? Where does your work appear? Basically, where do you fit in the marketplace. Is there a market for your book? How well have comparable books done in the past?

How is your book different, and similar? Where would it be placed in a bookstore? What is your main competition and what unique advantage do you have? Access to unique sources? Personal involvement? Time passed since an earlier book on the subject has been done? Fresh material? Ask your local librarian what they would do with such a book. If you have a video of yourself giving a dynamic talk, you might include that, or a link to it or part of it. Read the publishers' submissions instructions , because some want electronic submissions.

Find out what they prefer, to increase your chances of being considered. You can see this played out in the rejections received by award-winner Rebecca Skloot.

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Some types of nonfiction can be credibly pitched by anyone with proven journalistic or storytelling skills. Think of a narrative nonfiction book, such as Seabiscuit. If your book must succeed based on its ability to artfully weave a story, then your strength as a writer becomes more and more important.

In this column, Lynne asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. You have to understand the process! It gives your approach definition. Memoir writers: Be sure to read the final section on pitching a memoir.

A practical dash of reality. You have to work to get the editor interested in you, and then outline exactly who will buy the book once you've written it. Writer's Digest. Michael Hingston, Medium, Here's another book proposal, in full. This one's about hockey.

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Michael Hingston, Neither sold, but they are well written. Preparing and managing book submissions Although many publishers today accept email submissions, many still prefer print. Always check the publisher's preference before you send a manuscript. Ditto with dissertation committees. If you do send a paper manuscript, be sure to print it on 20 lb.

This is what editors expect. Do not send a bound manuscript to a book publisher for consideration. Editors tend to like to read loose pages, so they can hold and read a few pages at a time and move them to the end of the manuscript as they finish them. Some writers favor the rubber-band method of holding a ms. But loose pages are easy to stack, or stack things on, and can be placed in a mailer box available from an office supply vendor for mailing to the publisher.

If you have a copy shop make copies of your manuscript, they will often provide the perfect box to ship the ms. But don't send this format to an editor who prefers a printed manuscript. They should not have to and will not take the time print it out or to pay for the ink, paper, and toner. You do not need to sign up for a Submittable subscription to make a submission, says Submittable. See How do I submit?

I'll link to a few suggested systems below, but what you want to do is track what version of what document you have sent to whom name and publication on what date, with what result or comments if and when they responded, yes or no, or whatever--maybe "it needs work but I'd like to see it again" , money paid, date published. Do not assume you will remember these details it is not the best use of your brain. You need a system to make sure you don't submit the same manuscript twice to a publisher, and a record of how they responded.

Years later you will appreciate having recorded this all in one place. Whether you keep this data in a handy notebook, on your computer, in an Excel spreadsheet , on Google Drive in the cloud , or on someone else's system, have a system. Some of the devices systems available, if you don't want to use your own: Duotrope tracks submissions of short fiction, poetry, etc.

Sarah Lecky on keeping track of stories submitted for contests. Developing a 'selling' book title Much good advice here, and remember: The title alone can sell the book, so don't look for one that is especially meaningful to you but won't necessarily grab most readers. And when you have a good title, run it by a few people to market test it. Even better, get others to help you find a title. I spent two years interviewing people for a history of the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and then invited everyone interviewed or in the department to suggest potential titles and subtitles.

You can see the cover here with cover art by Linda Sibio. Don't get too attached to your working title; expect pushback from the publisher's marketing or editorial department; work with your editor; appreciate the value of group brainstorming; don't stick with a title that requires explanation; and other valuable advice.

If you're pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book. The authors provide good examples of titles plus subtitles to emulate if you are writing a prescriptive or platform-driven book or if you are writing narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, memoirs, or biographies.

Disproportionately, they are mysteries. Check out the Kindle and Amazon Keyword Search. Would a reader feel cool if someone saw them reading a book with that title? With tips on how to find the right elements. How to Find and Choose the Right Literary Agent and other Q's and A's about agents Agents vary on many counts, including how much and how well they help you shape your proposal, how aggressive they are in finding you a publisher, how well they know how many publishers and how much clout they have with them, and how reliable they will be about protecting your interests after the book is published.

So finding one through another writer friend is perhaps the best way, especially if the friend can also recommend you. This much is true: For the big traditional publishers, your chief way of getting your foot in the door is through an agent, as they screen out the 95 percent of manuscripts that are not even close to viable for most traditional publishers those who sell through bookstores and libraries and to the big national book clubs, etc. Traditional advice about finding an agent: Look at the Acknowledgments page in books you admire or like the one you are writing and see what they say about their agent, who is often thanked.

Check sources below to make sure any agent you approach is interested in the genre you are writing in--and, fiction writers, be specific about which genre you write in. Ask writers you know if there is an agent they recommend for a particular type of book the kind you are writing or want to write ; ask those with agents or who know agents if they would refer you to their agent if you're a likely match. Attend conferences with pitch slams--which are popular, if not de rigueur, at writers conferences. You can also find contact information for agents in Literary Marketplace There are free and paid-subscription versions of this database and reference work, available in many libraries. Look here to find agents to handle foreign rights, among other useful categories of information. Contains much info about agents. He describes the tastes and track records of the agents and editors listed therein. It's not updated annually and agents do move around. You can subscribe to Publishers Lunch a free e-letter mailed daily to 45, publishing people , a sampler version of the premium Lunch Deluxe. Database of Talent Representatives, a subscription site--provides contact information for a wide range of artists and athletes via their professional representatives IMDbPro information about agents for actors, not always up to date.

How do you find one? What you should submit to an agent, how to choose one that's right for you, what to expect from an agent, and are all agents equally good? It's "an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach," she writes. Publishers and agents "seek writers with credentials and authority, who are visible to their target audience as an expert, thought leader, or professional," and she explains visibility and target audience.