I’ve decided to put my name, publicly, on my personal approach to developing a pitch.
One of the most terrifying prospects for a budding author is the idea of running into your ideal publisher or agent, chatting with them for a few minutes, and then being asked to explain your novel in thirty seconds or less. How the heck are you supposed to do that? How do you compress 80 to 200 thousand words of painstakingly played out story into just a couple of sentences? AND you’re supposed to do it in a way that sells??
To practice for my first pitch (coming this November, stay tuned for a debrief!), I’ve been barhopping. In all seriousness, I have found one of the most effective ways to practice pitching is simply working on my final manuscript edits at a bar, waiting for someone to make conversation by asking about it, then describing the book to them off the cuff.
It doesn’t take much intuition to see the glaze that comes over a stranger’s face when you do your pitch poorly. Talk too long, fail to organize your plot into succinct and understandable points, make your work of staggering genius sound as interesting as an Ikea assembly manual… You can tell when it’s gone wrong. The polite smile and suppressed yawn of a complete stranger doesn’t paralyze you the way failing in front of a publisher will. It just makes you go back and explain it again. It makes you search for the right words until that spark of interest shows in someone’s eye.
Maybe I should just plan to bring a cocktail to my first pitch meeting. Then again, maybe not.