What Happens in a Pitch Session?

Recently, my friend Darcy Drake asked on Twitter about what happens during a pitch. There are a ton of articles on crafting your perfect pitch, but if you’ve never been through it, it can be pretty darn intimidating. I know it was for me. But the results can be awesome! I tied for the win in Changeling Press’s Shamrock Challenge after a chat room pitch session during Savvy Authors‘s DigiCon. Now two of my novellas (a cyberpunk and a paranormal romance) are contracted.

There are pretty much three different kinds of pitching opportunities. One is a face to face with an editor or agent, usually at a conference or retreat. There are also chat room pitch sessions, which mirrors face to face, except you’re in a chat room in the comfort of your own home. The third kind is blog pitching, which you post a three-line pitch for. Savvy Authors has several of these coming up this year.

Anyways, the types I’ll be talking about are face to face and chat rooms. They each have pros and cons. With face-to-face, you can see the other person’s reaction to what you’re saying, but it’s easier to get freaked out and scatterbrained too. With chat rooms, you can pitch in your pajamas and not be sitting in front of the editor or agent, but it’s harder to tell what they’re thinking during the process because you can’t see their faces.

Now for the process as I’ve experienced it. You wait for your turn, try to calm your nerves, and hope that it goes well. Then you’re off and greeting the agent/editor. With both types of pitching, I usually start by saying, “Hello, my name is Sarah Mäkelä…” and jump straight into it.

After you give your pitch, the editor/agent will, most of the time, ask questions. Although, you might get an editor who says at that they don’t think it’d be a good fit for them. And that is why it’s good to have a second story ready when pitching. When that happened to me, I pulled out a pitch for another story since it’d only taken about 3-4 minutes for my first pitch and for the editor to tell me they didn’t have much of a market for my story. She ended up requesting the second one though!

But I digress… The questions. Be prepared! I received a question during one of my first pitches where the agent asked what the climax of the story was. I sat there and scratched my head, not remembering what it was or what to say. haha Not good… I got a request for a synopsis from that, but it’s not a good feeling to flub. Other times, there have been questions that made me ponder the answer because it was something beyond what I’d really thought of, but I answered without a lot of trouble. They will let you sit there for a few moments and gather your thoughts. There’s no need to feel like freaking out. All of the people I’ve pitched to have been very nice and if you do get stuck on something, they might try to help out and gently prompt you.

The ones I’ve done have been about 10 minutes long, so you have a decent amount of time, but it usually flies by. At the end, a moderator (both in person and in chat rooms) might pop in to make sure you don’t go over the time limit. At that point, start wrapping things up, maybe exchange business cards and/or copy down information if requests were made. Leave the pitch feeling either super excited, mildly enthused, or disappointed.

Have you ever been in a pitch session? Was it face to face or via a chat room? Any tips you’d like to share?

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