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Part skills lesson, part confession, part peptalk: this is my brand new radio interview on Your Book is Your Hook radio program, hosted by Jennifer Wilkov.  You'll recognize her as an expert-in-resident here at Pitch U!
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« EXPERT PITCH CLASS with JENNIFER WILKOV: Day 3 Writing (about your writing) Muscles – 5 Ways to Work Them Out | Main | EXPERT PITCH CLASS with JENNIFER WILKOV: Day 1 - The Poop in Your Pitch (How to Clean It Up) »
Monday
Mar072011

EXPERT PITCH CLASS with JENNIFER WILKOV: Day 2 – Why Pitching Is Like “Romancing the Stone

Jennifer WilkovBy Jennifer S. Wilkov, “Your Book Is Your Hook!”

Radio Show Host | Book Consultant | Literary Agent Matchmaker | Bestselling Author
www.yourbookisyourhook.com
Twitter: @urbookisurhook
Twitter2: @litmatchmaker

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Looking for Treasure

For those of you who remember, Romancing the Stone is a hit movie from the 1980’s where Danny DeVito’s character, Ralph, accused Michael Douglas’s character, Jack Colton, of “romancing the stone” from Kathleen Turner’s sexy turn as a romance writer who traveled to South America to save her sister from kidnappers.

The stone was a buried treasure, complete with a map and clues for finding it, that required Kathleen Turner’s character, repressed romance writer Joan Wilder, to finally experience the adventures she had only written about.

So what are the parallels here when it comes to pitching?

Plenty!

Believability

Let’s start with Joan Wilder… a romance writer whose sweeping romance fantasies weren’t remotely believable.

Sound familiar? Ever had an agent tell you that your book is too far-fetched?

Joan Wilder gets a taste of her own imaginative stories when she is forced to dive into a real life adventure of her own in order to save her sister who has been kidnapped in Cartagena, Columbia.

Hmmmmm…. Many writers express frustration when they find that their books are not believable by agents and then are forced to move on to their next book, leaving their shattered dreams of being an author in an attic or basement along with their unpublished book.

To better understand this from the perspective of writers you know, simply refer to this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Book Review section essay and article entitled, “Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?”

Wooing

Once you have completed your book, there is an art to wooing an agent – similar to the “romancing” of the stone in this memorable motion picture.

You see, the relationship between an agent and an author is similar to that of a marriage. There is a “courting,” so to speak, by the author of the agent that occurs through the art of pitching your project. The pitch is the piece that hooks an agent’s eye and intrigues them to want to learn more about you and your book. It’s like talking on the phone… then going out for coffee (or send me your full manuscript) … to okay, let’s have dinner, and so on.

The Road to Becoming a Warrior

An agent is looking for that next great book that they can champion, genuinely, to editors and publishers. They are seeking the writer that can “romance” them with their great writing, well-crafted and packaged story and their concise query that opens up the possibilities of a great treasure hunt of its own: the quest to get your book published.

Like the map in the film, pitching requires that you pay attention to clues offered up through direct feedback from writers in a writers’ group, agents at a conference where you are encouraged to approach them during a pitch session, rare opportunities to receive feedback during an agent’s contest on their blog or from industry professionals who can support you with the preparing and polishing up your pitching prowess.

Similar to Joan Wilder and her graduation from a lonely existence accompanied only by her cat to a real-life, road-warrior romance, the only way for you to polish up your pitching skills is to do it.

Preparing your pitch requires a willingness from you to put your best foot forward, clearly communicate what you have to offer an agent with your work, confidently stand by its quality and appear ready for action to promote the project when it hits the marketplace.

Like any relationship, an agent wants to know that you are trustworthy, open to collaboration, a good listener and willing to take action so the quest you are on together can continue. You want the same from them.

The Map To Your Treasure

In the romance and dance, if you will, in the pitching process, keep in mind that you will need to use the same tools and skill set you would use in a partnering relationship of any kind:

  • · Be honest.
  • · Take responsibility for your role in the process and be respectful of the agent’s.
  • · Listen closely to what is desired and be flexible with meeting these needs.
  • · Open your heart and give the project your highest and best energy.
  • · Give the relationship your full attention and be present to it and all whom it affects.
  • · Keep the faith that everything will work out positively.

Being an author will require you to romance many people: yourself, as you must first believe in your work; an agent who you will entice to take you on as a client; an editor and publisher who share your confidence and that from your agent that your book has merit and will sell well; to the reader whom you will spend countless hours and use any number of strategies to convert into lifelong fans.

The art of pitching mirrors the art of romance.

As Carole Black, a literary agent of the Blake Friedmann Agency in the UK and the author of From Pitch to Publication, tweeted out last week @caroleagent: “It's a powerful writer who can make you laugh out loud one moment then cry the next. And I've read the novel many times. Beautiful.”

So grab your query letter, pitch and project and see how quickly you make the publishing world fall in love with you and your book.

If you’d like to listen to an agent’s perspective on the relationship forged between agents and their authors, CLICK HERE for access to an interview I’ve done with Jennifer DeChiara of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency on my popular radio show, “Your Book Is Your Hook!”

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Jennifer S. Wilkov: Jennifer S. Wilkov is a best-selling, award-winning author, an award-winning freelance writer, a speaker and trainer, and a Literary Agent Matchmaker™ who focuses on supporting writers with the essentials to become a bestseller: a great project, a strong platform and a well-polished pitch, presentation and hook for their book.

 

She is also a recognized media spokesperson for Project Night Night, a non-profit organization that delivers Night Night packages to homeless children in shelters across the nation which include a children's book, a stuffed animal and a blanket, and Heifer International's Read to Feed Program which helps children in schools to understand that they can make a difference for others by reading.

 

Your Book Is Your Hook! is her full service consulting practice that serves authors, writers and wannabes as well as the entire book publishing industry with its endeavors. Best known for its popular weekly radio show, robust resource blog, trainings and advice including the new uniquely positioned service as a Literary Agent Matchmaker™.

 

Through the popular radio show named after her practice, "Your Book Is Your Hook!", which can be heard every Tuesday morning at 9:00am on WomensRadio.com and the accompanying show blog at YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog, Jennifer S. Wilkov brings her experience and knowledge of the book business and the people in it as well as her understanding of the author’s experience from conceiving the idea to getting it published to her loyal listeners each week.

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