Here’s the gist of what I explained to the MRWG members. I can sell myself. I learned because when I left school, in the early 1980s, there weren’t many jobs. Each Friday, I’d ring up the jobs vacant in the Age and arrange interviews. I go into the city week after week for interview after pointless interview. Instead of giving up, I began to enjoy my trips to the city and decided to make a day of it. I’d enjoy, putting on makeup, doing my hair and dressing up in skirt and blazer. I stopped caring if I got the job, it was something fun to do and after the interview, I’d wander around Myer looking at the fashions.
During interviews, I began to make as much as I could out of the truth, look confident, sit forward and ask questions about the office procedures to look like I knew what I was talking about. I became an expert at interview skills by sheer practice alone, and eventually I landed a job.
Looking for work was very different from now where you need to have the world’s classiest resume to get a toe in the door. Pitching is a bit like that in reverse. You have to have a fabulous submission to back up your Pitch or job interview.
I have the same attitude to going for a job interview when pitching a book. I have nothing to lose by doing it. It’s an approach that has been used in the three novels I’ve pitched at five RWA conferences, to multiple agents and editors. I haven’t gained a contract yet, but I received a request for every pitch I did. To be truthful, I believe if you’ve done your homework and are pitching to an editor who is interested in the genre of book you’ve written you’ll get a request. You need to make sure to let them know what it is about your book that they’re looking for.
My very first pitch I read a synopsis. That technique was less than perfect but I believe I got a request, because I could name an author recently published with the company I was pitching to and could say what I liked about their work. I learned that knowledge of the company I’m pitching to and where my book would fit, helps them know how they might be able to sell my book. Beside telling them what’s great about my story, I add something of my writing experience and ability to market myself. I always have a pre-printed card with my name, author name and tagline, book title, genre, word count, and my contact details. (I also give these cards to people I meet at the conference.) I print them on A4 thick sparkly specialty paper from Officeworks. The trick is to use materials that will convey something of you with it.
I always begin with a beaming smile and say, “Hello I’m Dora Bramden. It’s great to meet you.” I would now also add. “I write heart warming, passionate romance.” (my tagline).
I have an interested- in-them attitude. If I know they’ve flown in from America or the UK, I ask how they are after their long flight. I might ask how they’re enjoying the conference. Or I might ask if, from OS if they’re planning time to see the sights while here. (Once a bit of a connection happened and later they followed me on twitter. ) At the very least, I feel a bit more relaxed and get on with the job interview. I want these people to employ me to write or take me on as a client. They usually ask me next what I’d like to pitch. So I get into it.
I begin with the title of my book. The Genre, length and then talk about the story in terms of the characters’ challenges, what they want and why the cant have it. It’s pretty much a blurb. GMC for each character is a great start. I like a question left open. The idea is to intrigue the acquiring editor/agent not tell them the whole story.
Editors/agents will sometimes ask why I want to be published/represented by them. I will have done my homework and will say I’m excited by (specifically name authors recently published with this agent/editor.) I feel my work is similar to theirs but explain why mine differs. I’ll have read what the editor/agent has said on their website about what they like to read, and explain my reasons for them possibly wanting my book.
I talk about marketing, being very active on social media, having website a blog and I like to speak a little about how long I’ve been writing, memberships, having won an award, and the study I’ve undertaken.
What to do when you get a request.
You get the request! Yay! Theyll hand you a card and give them yours. Thank them for their time.
Outside you’ll hi five a few friends who are waiting to pitch and are eager to see how you’ve done. Woot. You’re on a high but hang on, you aren’t done yet.
Make notes of the interview. Things you talked about. Is there is anything standing out you can remember or that seems important? Write down these things down. They might be useful to include in your query letter. Mentioning something specific or even something they asked you to do, is a way of them remembering who you were, in the sea of writers they met at conference. Also it can help you to notice what worked and what didn’t. It’s a great way to recap and a useful tool for getting a better pitch ready for your next appointment.
Heart melting, passionate romance
A Dance With The Laird