Writer’s conferences are right around the corner. Have you been writing? Do you have a story you think is ready to pitch to an editor or agent?
The elevator pitch is the shortest, quickest sell for your story. You imagine you are in an elevator and only have a few moments of someone’s time and attention to snag them with the brilliance of your tale. How do you do that?
Have your story written. Revised. Critiqued. This can seem to take forever and time is a good thing for wine and fiction. Take J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. He wrote that trilogy over a 12 year time span. (World War II was going on and might have had some impact). So take your time and make it sparkle.
Write your synopsis in several versions. Sometimes this can seem harder than writing the entire story. Why several versions? Because some agents and editors want one page and others are okay with as much as five. They want to see the story arc and themes. Writing it longer and shorter will also help you cull the basics of your story down so you are ready for the next part. . .
Write what would be a back page teaser for your story. Most readers will read this to determine if this is a story they want to read. This also shows up on bookseller pages. You want to capture the reader with the uniqueness and wonder of the story you want to tell. This kind of thing can make or break your story. This will also be what you would put on a one page (along with your bio and why they should take a chance on you as author). This might also serve as your elevator pitch.
Can you summarize your story in a sentence or two? Seriously. As short as you can. These can also appear at times on the back of a book as well.
This is a painstaking process but the better you know the nuts and bolts and can write and speak about your story without getting sucked into all the fun details that you hope will keep your reader engaged once they start opening up your pages.
Make appointments and meet as many editors and agents as you can . . . but not just to sell your story. Remember they are all human people. We do not have super-powers. Ask questions. Get to know these people and what they do have a life outside of the conference. At one conference I ended up sitting next to an agent at breakfast. I wasn’t going to pitch to him but we had a fun conversation and I learned a lot, about his journey and the industry. Maybe that agent or editor won’t be a good fit for you and your book – but someday you can point someone else their way. Or, they might remember you down the road too.
This is not a way to “work the system” but it is practical. You want and editor and or agent that you can really work with. Not to be a diva, but not everyone is going to be a good personality fit for you. Be yourself and be honest about what you want to grow in and ask those questions. I’m more willing to work with an author who is a learner more than someone who is vainly believing they’ve already achieved perfection.
Practice. Practice. Practice. The best pitch I ever got, the woman had me almost believing that the story she was telling me was something that had really happened to a close friend. Her energy and enthusiasm was fortunately evident in her writing style as well. She’s got her second book coming out this summer.
Have courage. You’ll be great!