In a couple of weeks, I’m attending a writing conference in Toronto – the 2016 Toronto Writing Workshop where I’ll be pitching my novel A COCONUT MOON to two literary agents: Rachel Letofsky of The Cooke Agency and Sue Miller of Donaghy Literary Group.
I know my story is good. In my mind, that’s a given. I just need someone who has the ability to get me published in the traditional press to listen to my spiel. But here’s the rub – for a person who can talk to the walls, I’m terrified. To my ears, my pitch sounds canned, my voice sounds phony and I feel like I don’t know what I’m saying or do.
Why? I don’t know. They’re people after all, aren’t they?
I’ve written out my pitch. I’ve changed it, I’ve overhauled it, I’ve re-written it about five times and I’ve tweaked it a thousand times. Reading it with my eyes, it sounds great. It’s got humour and personality stamped all over it – and that’s exactly what I wanted.
The problem is the human factor. There’s a real live person out there that I have to convey my story to and writers – well, we like to write. We feel more comfortable writing our stories, not talking about them.
What every writer who is going to a conference to pitch should remember is you can’t tell the whole story in the ten minutes allotted to you. You have to skip the sub-plots and the traits of every character in the story. No tiny, little details.
What the agent wants to hear is the overall arc of your story.
- What’s your hook?
- What makes your story stand out?
- Pull out the most exciting part of your story and create a logline (one sentence) with it.
Time your pitch to be about three minutes long so you have time to ask the agent a few questions and time to talk to her about yourself and some of your writing accomplishments if you have any.
You can use the time to pick her brain about your book or any other story you may have. It’s your time. Use it wisely.