Founder and Chief Alchemist
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« Lesson 17: A Pitch That Sticks | Main | Lesson 15: Building Buzz: The Basics on Pitching the Media »
Wednesday
Jan192011

Lesson 16: I’m Here, Now What? (Inside Pitch U)

 **This Lesson is part of the January series “30 Pitch Lessons – 30 Days.”  Pitch University Pitchfest weeks and Expert-In-Residence weeks kick off the 1st full week in February.** 

Oh, Look!  We Can Pitch to Agents and Editors! (And it's FREE!)

11-01 ExcitementTake a breath.  It’s true, but that’s only the beginning.

Many writers will first hear about Pitch University because of the excitement called, “You can pitch to an agent and meet an editor!”

Pitch University is much, much more than that.  Pitch U is a deep resource for learning HOW to pitch, PERFECTING your pitch, and then PRACTICING your pitch, over and over.

We’re the training ground for a skill that will follow you long after you sell your book or novel.  This is the skill you need every time someone asks, “What’s your book about?”

And yes, you pitch to (and learn from) real-live industry pros. (Literary Agents and Acquisitions Editors).

Also you’ll meet experts in all the related fields (sales, branding, psychology, presentation, nerves…).  You name it, and if it’s about pitching your book or novel, you’ll eventually find it here.  Every month, every year, we’ll grow our knowledge base deeper and wider.

Hey, Wait… What exactly am I supposed to do?

Learn.  Pitch.  Repeat.

Learning:  Start with the basic Pitching 101 Lessons found on the right sidebar of every Pitch U page.  Then begin reading our other posts. 

There’s a wealth of material here, and it’s always growing.

In addition to bringing in Agents and Editors, we also bring in Experts who have a deep understanding of the elements that intersect with pitching your book. 

Pitch U runs on weekly cycles that include…

  • Pitch U Pitchfest Weeks,
  • Classes via our Expert-In-Residence Weeks, and
  • Your Masters In Pitching Weeks.

And there’s no cost.  Yeah, I know.  Way.

Pitching: If you never practice pitching, you’ll never get any good.  You know, like writing. 

If all you did was absorb information and never actually write, you’re not moving forward with your goal to master the craft of writing.  Same with pitching.

With that understanding, we offer Pitch U Pitchfest Weeks, which is your chance to learn directly from Agents and Editors, study their pitch analyses, and submit your own pitches for feedback.

Once you have feedback, you’ll apply this knowledge to another Pitchfest week, and so on.

Yes, you might receive a request for materials (partial or full manuscript) if you have an excellent pitch for an excellent book.  That’s kinda the point.  Get to “excellent.” Get requests.  Sell your book.

If you’re already published, mastering pitching will help you talk  about your book with readers, booksellers, librarians, media folks, and  complete strangers.

Okay, but the river is fast and swift.  How do I jump into pitching?

1)  Keep Up with our schedule (see middle column of every page), so you know who’s the next guest. 

Plus you can add our calendar to any of your calendar apps/software with the iCal button on the right-hand sidebar.  (My experience: clicked button, it downloaded, clicked on the download, it instantly installed in my Outlook.  Genius.)

2) Read the instructions on how to create a video (or follow directions for other options). 

Translation: “You want me to do what?!  Create a video of me?! ) SEE: LEVELS OF PARTICIPATION  (video, audio, and written) for more options and NERVOUS for an insightful pep talk.)

3) Try it out.  If you get stuck with the technical aspects, use your network of family, friends, writing groups, and critique buddies.  Lots of un-technical people upload to YouTube every day.

4) Don’t let nerves stop you.  This is your dream.  You, your book, your readers.  Throw a pitch party and invite your writing friends to come and cheer you on.  They can make videos too.  (Bonus points if you suck it up and just do it, especially with no one to cheer you on.)

5)  You don’t have to get it right the first time.  That’s the beauty of learning in the privacy of your own home, instead of in front of a panel of industry pros. 

If you don’t like how your video turned out, do it again.

6)  All the writers who come to Pitch U are just like you.  We’re here to learn, because we suck at pitching.  At Pitch U, no one gets criticized for trying.  You get encouragement and strategic, helpful suggestions. And the Pitch U minions will make sure of that!

7)  The speed of learning is up to you.  If you jump in, read the posts, come to Pitchfest week and participate, you’ll become an expert much sooner than later.

8)  Participate in comments now (ask questions, encourage others), and keep coming back once you’ve gotten to GREAT (offer what you’ve learned).

9)  And finally, tell your friends, your critique group, and your writing organizations about Pitch University.  Share the information with others.  The more writers we have here, but more valuable this website will be in the long run.

From a practical stand point, when we invite Agents, Editors, and Experts, we need to be able to quantify our “traffic.”

We need to be able to say, “The writers you want to meet are here at Pitch U.  These are the professional writers, doing what it takes to become a success.

Yes, I’m talking about you.

But I still don’t know what to say in my Pitch!

Most book writers, especially novelists, have a bit of a challenge taking their book idea and distilling it down into a sentence or two.  So, yeah, we feel your pain.

Definition:

Basic definition of a pitch:  A pitch is a very short, persuasive description of your book given verbally. 

The term originated in the sales and marketing community (also the circus community), and is often referred to as an Elevator Pitch, to underscore just how short it is.  You can deliver an Elevator Pitch to a fellow passenger while between floors, before the elevator doors open again.

While some people call the book-summary paragraph(s) of a query letter a pitch, we only use the term here at Pitch U to mean a verbal pitch, face-to-face and in living color.

Other than that, opinions vary about how to create a persuasive description of your book.

You thought there was only right answer, didn’t you?

Industry Pros seem to agree that a pitch includes genre/type, word count, and hook.  But everything else comes down to opinion.

What a relief.  Instead of one right answer, there are many ways to create an excellent pitch.

Each Pitchfest will begin with a “Meet the Industry Pro” interview.  So each Editor and Agent will share with you their take on how to create a darn good pitch.

Prerequisites

We want to recommend that…

  • if you’ve never studied the craft of writing,
  • if you don’t belong to writing organizations or critique groups,
  • if you haven’t been to a workshop, class, or conference,
  • if no one has ever seen your manuscript….

You probably want to address those areas before actually pitching your book.  You’re welcome to hang out here, of course.

But there are only so many hours in the day.  You’d be best served by creating a great book (or non-fiction book proposal and sample chapter), before you conquer the skill of talking about it.

If you feel you have the craft underway, take time to learn about the industry (if you haven’t already).  Here are some links to get you started:

Agents:

What is a Literary Agent?   What do they do all day?  True Adventures in Editing

Editors:

What  is an (Acquisitions) Editor? (Link Note: Keep scrolling down to read more. Way too many Google ads!)  What do they do all day? 

The Publishing Industry:

What is the Publishing Industry?

GalleyCat – Book Publishing News.

The Digital Age – Book Publishing Article by TIME Magazine.

The Association of American Publishers.

Kindle Armageddon: How the Publishing Industry Is Slitting Its Own Throat

Publishers Weekly – The Industry Magazine (okay, for America!)

Publishers Lunch - Track Deals, Sales, Reviews, Agents, Editors, News – and Get Lunch Deluxe Every Day.  The longer version is $20/month.  The shorter version is free.

We hope this answers your biggest questions.  But if not, just write us at pitchuniversity@gmail.com, and we’ll be glad to help you out.

---

Diane Holmes is the Founder and Chief Alchemist behind Pitch University.

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