1. Shaezy
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    Shaezy New Member

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    Pitching at a Writers Festival

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Shaezy, Mar 30, 2012.

    Hi all,

    The Sydney Writers' Festival is coming up and they have a lottery style "pitch to the publisher" session where ten random writers are picked to deliver a three minute pitch to a panel of four editors/publishers.

    Has anyone done a verbal pitch, and can you advise what you did? I've googled the topic and all the advice says "memorise three to four sentences as your pitch." Does this mean the remainder of the time is spent discussing the idea, market etc and having Q&A with the panel?

    Also, does my manuscript need to be fully completed or is it enough to have it half to three quarters complete (this is where it is now; I aim to have the first draft completed by then, and maybe even a good chunk of second draft). Or is incomplete not good enough?

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    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
  2. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt New Member

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    If it's fiction they want a completed manuscript if it is anything less you should let them know.

    I'm not an expert at pitch sessions but I do know they appreciate it when you start by telling them some information about your book. My novel titled ... is a young adult fantasy and is complete at about 95,000 words.

    You might even want to mention another book or two that would be shelved in the same area. My novel would appeal to the same audience as ... (althought there is several different schools of thought on comparing your book in any way to other books on the market. Some think it's a terrible idea.)

    You also might want to look up the publishers/agents and find out what they think would be a perfect pitch. If you have names you can look to see if they have articles out or blogs on the subject of pitching or submissions.

    Of course, they are going to want to hear what the book is about wrapped up in a few sentences (your memorized line probably) but I have heard they like to have time to ask questions and get a feel for how you respond to those questions. I heard one agent say she wasn't sure about the story but she was absolutely sure about the author because of the way the authors face would light up when she talked about her story.

    Good luck and I hope you get to pitch your book.
  3. Shaezy
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    Shaezy New Member

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    Thank you for the advice Amy!

    I plan to dent the seat of my chair over the next two months and get this story done, so hopefully I have a completed manuscript in time for the festival. The panel all have bios on the website so I am investigating each of the (very big and very scary!) publishing houses and trying to understand their usual pitch requirements; I also have a couple of contacts through courses I have done and have asked them the same questions.

    I'm reading QueryShark at the moment which is an interesting read. I've never done a pitch before and have just written up a little blurb that I'll work on; there is such a big difference between a 250 word query and four sentences! I am a little nervous about mentioning other books or authors but truth be told I am influenced by a particular couple of authors - I don't want to sound like I am comparing myself to them though.

    I'm sure there will be 40 gazillion people there so my chances of winning the lotto are limited, but you never know your luck in the big city! Thanks again.
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it's fiction, you should have not only a completed ms by then, but a polished to a faretheewell one that is ready to be submitted... to go in with less than that can be a total waste of time, money, and your pitch, since no publisher in their right mind is going to take on an uncompleted novel or unpolished ms by a new and unknown writer...

    non-fiction can be submitted as a proposal, but still must have at least the first 3 chapters in polished, final draft shape...
  5. Shaezy
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    Shaezy New Member

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    Thanks mammamaia. I doubt I'll be at THAT stage by then, but I think I will still go along to see what it's all about instead. I don't know whether you pitch in front of the crowd or if the panel is secreted away somewhere. And then next year I will be ready! It's definitely an amazing opportunity so best to be fully prepared.
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In addition to what the others said, have a business card handy and ask if they'd be open for you to send them the completed manuscript for consideration. If they are, do so promptly, reminding them in the cover letter of the pitch session. Although there are exceptions, dress professionally.
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!

    and you're wise to take the 'check it out and be ready next year' approach, shaezy...
  8. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 New Member

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    I'm going to the Sydney Writers Festival with my school next term!
  9. Shaezy
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    Shaezy New Member

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    Oh lucky you! I have to bunk off work for a few days... so many things I want to see!!
  10. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 New Member

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    Yes, I'm pretty excited.
  11. Trilby
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    Trilby Senior Member Contributor

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    I went to a play writing work shop and one of the things they said was explain your play in one sentence. Hope that helps.
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's a standard in screenwriting that can help with any other form as well... it's called a 'logline' and it's putting across the basic premise of your story in 25 words or less...
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