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"In-Person" Pitching Advice?

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I've signed up to pitch to an editor at this year's SCBWI summer conference. I've never done a verbal pitch before, so would love any advice on how to prepare for pitching "in person" (via Zoom).

Is there a usual structure to this type of pitching? Should I create a virtual handout to share with them?

If you have experience pitching in this way, I'd love to hear how your experience went.

Thanks!
#1 - May 26, 2021, 07:00 PM

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I would also like some advice about this.  Is it appropriate to pitch more than one project?  Erika, thanks for starting the topic.
#2 - May 30, 2021, 10:07 AM

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The first time I did an in-person pitch I did all kinds of research on what to say and how to say it and how to present myself.  We had five minutes for the pitch and I used every minute to blast that poor agent with every detail I could fit in. When I stopped talking, she looked shell shocked and was happy to pass me out the door.

The second time I participated in a pitch session, I had all the recommended info mentally in place, and the agent and I just had a pleasant conversation. I was prepared, but waited for her to ask me questions before I responded. I did not dump the elevator pitch, the full hook, the synopsis, motivations for MC, comparables, etc. in her lap all at once. We chatted. She gave me her card and asked for the ms. I was pitching the same book I had pitched the first time.

Bottom Line: There is a lot of good advice floating around, but there is also some questionable advice. Be prepared to discuss what your book is about - I mean really about - an elevator pitch, MC motivations, comparables, why someone would want to read your book, etc., but also trust your natural instincts on how to actually talk to the agent. Make the conversation as natural and friendly as possible. Smile. Thank the agent for his time.

In my first pitch I did not feel right about following the aggressive advice I had found online, but I did it anyway. I should have followed my instincts.

eta: I would just pitch one ms at a time.


#3 - May 30, 2021, 11:08 AM
« Last Edit: May 30, 2021, 11:12 AM by Pons »

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Pons,
Thanks so much for your input.  Since these pitch sessions are only 2 minutes long, it will be a short elevator ride.  I guess the bigger decision is whether to pitch or read.  Based on your experience, I think a more relaxed conversation (pitch) is the way to go, rather than filling every available second (and the agent's brain) with words from a MS. 

Much appreciated!
#4 - May 30, 2021, 03:08 PM

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Go with whichever you feel more comfortable doing. Sometimes I think the first page gives a better sense of the manuscript than the pitch. Reading may make you less nervous or more nervous. Practice the information in your head or even out loud. You might even record yourself so you see how you come off on Zoom. You don't want to sound rehearsed, but you do want to know what you plan to say. Time yourself reading the page or giving the pitch. You want to know how long each takes, make eye contact, and smile. Smiling is big. Which leaves more time for discussion?

Sorry that's rambling. I hope it helps.
#5 - May 30, 2021, 06:41 PM
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Debbie's right. The agent may prefer first pages. Just let the agent know you are prepared with both first pages and a pitch and ask which she prefers. If you are anything like me, you will be nervous, but follow the agent's lead and you'll be okay.

Good luck.  :star2
#6 - May 31, 2021, 09:37 AM

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Thanks to both of you for such useful insight.  Since a page takes about a minute to read, (this pitch is for a PB) I'd better learn how to speed-talk.  A 2 minute pitch is sounding very tight.  I'd still be a bachelor if I ever had to speed date.
#7 - May 31, 2021, 12:15 PM

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Two minutes is really short. It hardly gives you time to sit down and say hi, but go prepared and you'll do great.
#8 - May 31, 2021, 12:55 PM

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Is it this pitching opportunity? https://www.scbwi.org/event-summer-conference-2021/event-roundtable/

I did a double-take at the two-minute time, but it seems to be a group pitching thing?
#9 - June 01, 2021, 02:05 AM

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My pitching experience comes from pitching a MG novel at the Maui Writers' Conference, where we had 10 minutes with the agent or editor. Out of three pitches, I received three requests. But the advice remains the same, just scaled down.

 After introductions, use the first minute to present your pitch. Then pause, smile, and let the person ask questions. Take a typed version of your first page and of your logline/pitch with you, so you can read them and don't have to memorize them. Practice at home so you can do it fluently and enthusiastically. Good luck!  :goodluck
#10 - June 01, 2021, 12:10 PM
« Last Edit: June 01, 2021, 12:12 PM by Barbara Etlin »
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Thanks Barbara, and bravo on the 3 requests.
Sonya, yes your link is to the pitch opportunity I'm referring to.  What's unclear to me is if the other nine "pitchers" get to watch as each person presents their work.  (Uggh) I truly hope each pitch is individualized and private, but truth be told, I'd like to hear other pitches for the learning experience.
#11 - June 01, 2021, 03:47 PM

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Anthony, I clicked on the link, and it seems you do have the full two minutes for your presentation, followed by five minutes of feedback from the editor or agent.
#12 - June 06, 2021, 01:37 PM
ANTIQUE PIANO & OTHER SOUR NOTES
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This has already come across in the thread, but I recommend being human. Reading could be replaced just as easily with a handout at the end. Conference presentations and my own pitch experiences have shown me that they are just as interested in working out who they would like to work with as much as what they would like to acquire. You may not sell this manuscript, but they may remember you for future manuscripts. You are in it for the long haul, so gradually building relationships is an equally important goal.
Bottom line: have your info ready (written prompts, handouts), but also center yourself before your time and be prepared to listen and interact.
I don't hear of a lot of acceptances from these sessions, but they are a stepping stone in being known in the industry, getting a contact for future submissions (hopefully) and getting to know who you would like to work with and what they like to acquire.
Have fun!
#13 - June 06, 2021, 03:58 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths - CSIRO Pub. Nov. 2021

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Thank you Julie for such sound advice (and Barbara for checking) I'm looking forward to the pitch session, however brief, and I'm very grateful to SCBWI for the opportunity. I'll have my "crib notes" ready, just out of camera range  (thank you, zoom) A handout in this case would be an emailed file, I presume. 
#14 - June 06, 2021, 07:33 PM

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New!
You can't email anything without permission, so you may not have a handout for these pitches. If you receive permission to send something it will likely be a full query letter or a package with query and some number of pages. If that happens, be sure to ask for specific instructions on how to send (i.e., in the body of an email or as an attachment, with what in the subject line, etc.)
#15 - June 06, 2021, 08:33 PM
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 06:28 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
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Thank you Debbie for adding those details.  I'll brush up on my query writing skills!
#16 - June 07, 2021, 03:41 PM

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