Sep 2, 2011

Surviving a Pitch Session

I have pitch-fear!
Next week I pitch. Not the safe kind of online, or written pitches I've tried thus far... no... I pitch in person. I really didn't think it would be a big deal. After all, I've sent my first ten pages in, they'll either like it or they won't. So what's 15minutes chatting with a publisher?


Now that it's fast approaching I am in panic mode. Eeek! What if I just make a fool of myself - and not in the good way I usually intend to make a fool of myself? So, in preparation for the CYA Conference in Brisbane, I am searching for advice on pitching in person. Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • Act like they are providing a service to you. You are not doing them a favour, treat them like you have a product to sell to them. (Fabianspace)
  • Assume they will make allowances for you because your work is just so special, play by the rules. (Fabianspace)
  • Spend the whole time talking about your manuscript and going over what they've already read. Make a personal connection. (Nathan Bransford)

  • Welcome feedback. You don't have to implement every change suggested to your manuscript but take it all in for serious consideration - this person knows what they're talking about and the feedback is generously provided to help you. (Nathan Bransford)
  • Know the summary or synopsis of your story by heart. You might be asked to refresh their memory. (Redlines and Deadlines)
  • Have a synopsis handy for any other manuscripts you have ready or nearly finished. You might have time to discuss those. 
  • Do your homework. Know a little about the publishing house you are pitching to. I'm pitching to Black Dog Books and know that they have novels aimed the same age group as my manuscript and in the same genre. I can specifically point to some of their current books and say my novel is like a cross between this novel and this one. At the very least, know that they publish the sort of genre you produce. (Writing World)
That's all I got - any suggestions????


  1. Good luck! I've never been to a conference so I've never had this experience, but I imagine I'd be a nervous wreck lol. Sounds like you're ready though so I'm sure you'll nail it!

  2. You're gonna love it. Pitching in person is far superior to online pitches. I'd lay bets that you're going to make a solid connection.

    As far as a tip? Smile. Good handshake. Be courteous, grateful and upbeat. Pretty sure you have all those covered, C. Yer gonna shine.

  3. Okay, this one might be impossible but try to relax and enjoy talking to someone in the same business as you. And remember, they want to like your pitch - that's how they make their money :-)

  4. Make sure you take a cheat sheet with you. Make sure you tell the story from your main character's point of view. No need to bring all the characters into your pitch. It will only confuse who you're pitching to. State the characters dilema and what they go through to get through it.

  5. How about the age-old advice for the nervous interviewee: imagine them naked. Not sure if that's in the "do" or "don't" category though :)

    OK, seriously, to get out of panic mode try asking yourself what's the absolutely worst thing that can happen if things go pear-shaped. Face down that fear and you'll be fine.

    Good luck!

  6. Good luck, Charmaine,

    I'm sure you'll be great. You sound very well prepared already. The only other thing I would suggest is to
    go in with questions of your own.

    As well as finding out whether you really do want to publish with this publisher, it will help you relax and make you feel like you are less 'under fire'.

    Look forward to hearing how it went.

  7. Know that you are as prepared for your pitch as you can be. This confidence will allow you to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Worrying about the pitch could stop you from taking in all wonderful experiences CYA has to offer.

    No one knows your story better than you. The publisher is interested to hear what you have to say. Don't bore them with a long winded, blow by blow account of what the story is about. Just like the one or two paragraph blurb on the back of your book, your pitch must be to the point and attention grabbing.

    Saying that you book is similar to other popular texts shows you know the market, but don't forget to mention what makes your story unique.

    If things don't go as you imagined, don't take it personally.

    CYA is a wonderful opportunity to meet publishers, editors, agents, writers and illustrators. Do take the time to meet, talk to and form relationships with other like-minded kidlit creators. You all have something in common- you are passionate about creating books for children ... and you never know when "I met you at CYA" will open a door for you.

    Ask questions, have fun and be inspired. Fingers crossed for your pitch. Good luck Charmaine.

    Jo Thompson
    Create a Kids' Book tutor, assessor, mentor.
    CYA Illustration Winner 2009
    Illustrator of The Glasshouse by Paul Collins
    IBBY Outstanding book for Youth with Disabilities
    2011 Crichton Shortlist Illustrator

  8. Be aware that they may test you to see how easy you will be to work with, so if they criticise any part of your submission, listen and ask questions on how to improve it.

  9. Oh my, you have received such excellent advice in the comments already.

    I am new to all this so not much to say except they're keen to find new talent so they aren't against you. Try and enjoy the conversation with others also as passionate about kidlit as you are. Of course, Good Luck!

  10. Ooh, exciting! Relax and be your (fantastic) self :) Can't wait to hear how it goes :)

  11. I allways feel like I put my foot in it when I try to talk about my work.

  12. Charmaine 2 things.
    1. I've met you. I know your natural charm and confidence will win over on the day.
    2. I've pitched there. It's fun or should be fun (serious fun of course). Smile on the inside and it will be reflected on the outside and in all that you do and say. You know your stuff, you know the do's and dont's.
    It's a great privilge to meet these people with this opportunity to showcase your stuff but it is also a time to connect and embrace the wonderful comarderie that envelopes the Kid Lit world as Jo T said. Treat your pitch as a potential launch pad for your wares but regard it with equal enjoyment. Regardless of how it goes you can then walk away the richer for it. Good luck!

  13. Wow, so many wonderfully generous comments and pieces of advice - I feel better already!

    Thank you all and I will absolutely take all you suggest onboard and try not to muddle it, like say if I take a camera and ask to get a picture of the publisher naked... no wait, I go naked, no that wasn't it either... okay maybe I need to prepare a little more :)

  14. I read a good post recently about checking your expectations. It's wonderful to get a request for your work, but if you don't. Do your research and try to find another agent, who might be interested. I'm a fellow campaigner dropping by.

  15. Good luck! TRY to relax. ;) Then, please come back and tell us how it went. (I am trying this myself for the first time, next month, and am starting to panic, too...)

  16. Oh, I wish you tons and tons of luck, Charmaine!! And great post! :-)

  17. Sounds like you've got a great handle on this! You're going to be great!! :)

  18. Good luck. I am sure you will be fine.

  19. Wow! Good for you and good luck!!
    (over here from the campaign)