When we held our first Pitchfest at CWC 2013, we had about 25 slots open. Writers clamored for the few spots we offered, but nearly all expressed some form of “OMG I am so freaked out!” That’s cool. And normal. Even if the thought of talking to an agent or editor freaks you out a bit, you should do it anyway. Here are 3 reasons why you should pitch — even if you think you’re “not ready” (and especially if you’re not ready!)
1. Get the scary stuff over with sooner rather than later.
You’re probably working on your novel or non-fiction book. Wouldn’t you rather push through the fear of talking to an agent or editor now rather than later? Pitching gives you practice not just for talking about your book, but also for selling your book, because you are the one responsible for selling your book – before, during, and after publication.
2. Immediate feedback from a professional who knows the business.
When you pitch to a professional who works on the business end of things, s/he will ask questions you haven’t considered.
Case in point: Last year I attended the Writers Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. I sat down with agent Elizabeth Evans (also at CWC this year), and pitched her my book. She asked me one question – just one – that made me see I was not yet positioned to sell my book. Elizabeth then made recommendations of how I could work to position myself, and once that was in place, follow up with her.
3. You get to see if your idea is sale-able and easy to understand.
And even though I had what I thought was an amazing title (“Pay Attention to the Brown M&Ms”), Elizabeth’s reaction to the title showed me that it was a confusing title and wouldn’t serve my purpose.
Agents and editors know the market. Listen to their feedback, and see it as valuable insight rather than someone trying to dis your work (they’re not). If the fear of criticism is keeping you from pitching, push through it and pitch. Advice from an agent or editor will help focus your efforts on your work – and make your product that much better.
…and a final thought….
Practice pitching before you sit down with an agent or editor! Chat with other writers at our cocktail parties and take turns pitching your book to each other. Pitch your book to friends and loved ones before the conference.
You’re going to have to sell yourself as an author. You may as well start now.