How to Pitch to an Agent

Once you have a finished manuscript that’s polished and refined, you may be asking yourself what comes next. If you’re looking to get traditionally published, that means it’s time to pitch to agents. Last week we talked about writer’s conferences and those can be a great opportunity to pitch to an agent in person. I’m going to a conference in March and plan on pitching to four agents. So what makes a good pitch? Let’s take a look.

  • The first thing to keep in mind is that you only have a short amount of time with which to pitch. Your pitch should be concise and clear. You need to boil your entire manuscript down to about two paragraphs.
  • Start with the genre, title, and word count. For example: My book is a 60,000 Young Adult story named Fire and Wind.
  • Answer these questions in your pitch: what is the setting, who is the protagonist, what is her conflict, and what must she do to overcome her conflict.
    • An example using the plot from the Little Mermaid:

Under the sea, young and headstrong Ariel longs for more than her everyday life in the ocean. Fascinated by humans, she sneaks to the surface to watch a party on a ship where she falls for a handsome prince. The ship sinks and Ariel has to choose between staying unseen as her father commands or saving the man she adores. After a raging argument with her father about the prince, she goes to the sea-witch for a chance at being human and winning the prince over. Will she find true love or lose it all to the sea-witch?

  • Keep out secondary characters. This is the time for the protagonist and the main conflict of the story. Don’t get bogged down in details.
  • You want to hook the agent right away so make your pitch intriguing and not just a laundry list of events. Avoid using repetitive phrases like “And then … And then …”
  • Be able to answer what makes your story different than what is on the market already. You want to stand out.
  • Match the tone of your pitch to your story. Make it sound like a romance or a thriller and highlight how your actual manuscript is written.
  • Be prepared to answer questions. Agents may ask you what authors you like, where you got your inspiration for your story, and what else you’re working on.
  • Be prepared to ask questions if you still have time. If they didn’t ask to see more of your manuscript, ask them where you can improve your pitch to get the yes you didn’t get.
  • Practice giving your pitch in the mirror until it comes naturally for you. The more you practice, the easier it will be to do in person.

Be prepared and move forward in confidence. Learn from your feedback and try again if you need to. You got this.

Have you pitched to an agent? What are your best practices? Comment below and happy writing.

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and my Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration and find me on Facebook for weekly prompts.

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