Pitching Your Projects

Pitching Your Projects I’ve posted on this topic numerous times, but since I’m going to a conference this week and will be hearing dozens of pitches, I wanted to go over (once again) some tips for pitching to agents and editors. We can probably all agree on the “don’ts” of pitching your project. Don’t pitch in the bathroom. Don’t pitch a novel that’s nowhere near ready. Don’t pitch with your mouth full. What are some positive tips we can all use? I think the secret to making a great pitch is to start with a bit of context or background, then tell me about your book. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, considering your time restraints. But take a moment to introduce yourself and your project before pitching. Too often, people sit down and nervously launch...
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How to Make the Most of a Conference

How to Make the Most of a Conference Guest Blogger: Dabney Hedegard (@dabneyland) I’m not a writer, per se. I’m a speaker who learned the craft of writing and secured a contract by her second writers’ conference. But intense work was involved; especially since I didn’t know how much longer I had to live. Let me explain. At age 36, my cardiologist predicated a heart transplant was in my future. Nothing ignited my inspiration like a failing organ. I put a hot pink sticky beside my bed that read: “If you had six months to live, what would you do with your life?” Documenting my four near-death experiences was always the answer. And since writing made my throat constrict, I thought if I pitched my story at a conference to a publisher during a one-on-one meeting, surely they would purchase my memoir and pair me with...
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Why I Go To Writers’ Conferences

Why I Go To Writers’ Conferences Most people think agents go to writers’ conferences strictly to find new clients to represent. For some agents this might be the case, but it’s not true for me, nor is it true for most of the agents and editors I know. There are five main reasons most of us go to conferences: 1. To meet the people behind the queries. At a conference, I can make personal connections with writers, hear them talk about their books, and learn more than I could in a 400-word query letter. Yes, this is part of the process of finding new authors to represent, and it’s one reason we’re there. 2. To meet with my clients. Most of my clients are spread across the country and we have few opportunities to get together in person. A conference is a great place to do this, especially if both the...
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Secrets of a Great Pitch

http://www.rachellegardner.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Rockies-pitcher-150x150.jpg Next week I’m headed out to the ACFW conference (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I’m sure I’ll see some of you there! Rachel’s post yesterday on the Books & Such blog gave some great advice about talking to agents and editors at conferences: It’s Not All About the Pitch. But I know many of you will be pitching, so I wanted to go over some tips. I think the secret to making a great pitch is to start with a bit of context or background, then tell me about your book. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, considering your time restraints. But take a moment to introduce yourself and your project before pitching. Too often, people sit down and nervously launch into some kind of story and I find myself dizzy with confusion. I feel like a deer in the...
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Notes from the Conference

Notes from the Conference Random things that are on my mind at 1:00 am as I’m finishing up day 3 of this 5-day conference… 1. If an agent or editor is walking quickly and purposefully, they’re probably late to a meeting. That’s not the time to grab them and introduce yourself. Standing in the Starbucks line or waiting for an elevator… better. 2. We always appreciate when you mention that you read our blog. Encouragement = good. 3. You don’t have to tell us you’re nervous when you’re about to pitch. Chances are, if you hadn’t mentioned it, we’d never have known. You’re fine, relax. 4. If you’re pitching to an editor or agent and you want them to pay attention, your story better have a strong hook. Find the hook in your story and tell us about...
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Meet Me in St. Louis

Meet Me in St. Louis I’m traveling today! I’m headed for the ACFW conference (the American Christian Fiction Writers), which is my biggest and most intense conference of the year. I hear there will be more than 700 attendees (wow!). I’m scheduled for 25 pitch appointments with writers seeking an agent, 12 appointments-coffees-lunches with editors, and 18 meetings with my clients. Phew! Doesn’t get much more fun than that. I’m not teaching a workshop this time—a nice break since I taught workshops at conferences the last two months. I hope to get in some early morning jogging time, too. Apparently there are some nice trails right by the Arch in the downtown area. I’ll get some posts up while I’m gone but I won’t have much time for comment interaction. Hope I...
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Keep Your Dream Alive

Keep Your Dream Alive Avoiding Despair at a Writer’s Conference A Post by Barbara Scott Many of you have attended—or will attend—a writer’s conference. Hundreds of authors will attend the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this week in St. Louis, searching for someone who will publish their manuscript. Some will feel encouraged… but many of you may go through a phase of feeling overwhelmed or even discouraged.  You’ll get so much advice… hear so many success stories… and you may begin to think it will never happen for you. It’s just too hard. Don’t worry, this is normal! I know of one author who wrote five or six manuscripts before she was offered a contract. She attended workshops at writers’ conferences and had appointments with agents and editors. She took their advice and...
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Advice for Agents (Including Me)

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/86361cfcaec968323a86853e161d73ca.jpg I’m teaching at two writers’ conferences this month, and that means I’ll have quite a few one-on-one meetings with writers. There are plenty of blog posts giving advice to authors for how to behave at conferences… but for some reason, we never see advice for agents! I guess we’re just supposed to know this stuff by osmosis or something. Anyway, as I head into a couple of conferences, I wanted to remind myself of some important things to remember when I’m doing those one-on-one meetings with writers. Secrets for a Great Pitch Meeting: Agents’ Version Sometimes  it’s not easy sitting through pitches one after the other. But it’s important to remember that the writer not only paid a lot of money to be at that conference, they also...
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What Should I Bring to a Conference?

What Should I Bring to a Conference? Hi Rachelle, I have a question about attending a fiction conference. Lots of posts are flying around the Internet about bringing one sheets and the first 1-2 chapters of each novel to give to editors when meeting with them. I’m going to design a really nice one-sheet with 1-paragraph synopses of my two novels. Should I also attach the first chapter of each to my one-sheet? Or should I just have the chapters ready to give only if they ask for them? Signed,  New Novelist Dear New Novelist, You should have a separate one-sheet for each novel. Don’t attach anything to it. Make sure your one-sheet includes:  Your book title (obviously)  A brief pitch for the novel similar to flap copy or back cover copy  An image that somehow captures the novel  Your contact...
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10 Ways to Be Awkward at a Writer’s Conference

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/6d49862164339bc4ebc2ad1c23fef268.jpg Guest Blogger: Mary DemuthMy teenagers overuse the word awkward. As in… they say it a lot. Everything’s awkward, apparently. As a writing conference attendee, and now as faculty, I have learned the true meaning of the word. While the vast majority of folks who attend writing conferences belie the meaning of awkward, there are a few who embody it. In my benevolence, I offer you 10 ways to be awkward — in hopes that you’ll avoid them. 1. Stalk. Follow editors and agents around. Hog their attention. Know too much personal information about them. As my teens say, “creep on them.” 2. Play the God-card. Tell an editor, “God gave me these words; therefore, they are not to be changed. Ever.” 3. Choose not to learn the industry. Have no business cards (except maybe some index...
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When You Just Want to Disappear

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TI2CJ0gifFI/AAAAAAAAEEk/SytkoeS4yQ4/s320/tp+on+shoe.jpg Right now I’m at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis. This is one of my favorite events every year because it’s like a huge gathering of my friends. I’m sure there are a lot of writers here who are nervous, and there will be more than a few awkward moments. So today let’s talk about embarrassing situations. Could be at a writer’s conference, or any other setting. Tell us about a time you were mortified, uncomfortable, or just wanted to disappear into the atmosphere. Think of it as therapy. And a reminder that it happens to the best of us! Have a great weekend! Be Sociable, Share! ...
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Should Pubbed Authors Go to Conferences?

If you’re an unpubbed/unagented writer, then you probably know that writers’ conferences are a great place to meet agents and editors. But today I want to make clear: There are plenty of other good reasons to attend a conference – even if you already have an agent and/or a publisher. First, the workshops can be valuable. It’s like doctors and lawyers who are many years into practice but are still required to take a certain number of hours per year of ongoing instruction. You might be brushing up on some skills you already have or you might learn something new; you might get updated information on the latest trends in your industry; you may hear interesting discussions about the future and what to expect. You can gain new insights in your writing, and gather interesting...
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The Value of the Verbal Pitch

Last week in Secrets of a Great Pitch I gave you some tips about talking to agents and editors at writers’ conferences. A few people raised a good question: Why pitch verbally at all, when it’s the writing that matters? Yes, the writing matters most. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be gained from a face-to-face meeting. A verbal pitch is the equivalent of a written query, but with some advantages. Your verbal pitch (just like a query) can tell me whether or not I like the idea of your book enough to want to see the writing. But the face-to-face connection also allows you to express yourself not only with words but facial expressions and gestures. It allows a conversation to develop, in which the agent can ask questions and probe for more information if...
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ACFW Conference Debriefing

I just came from ACFW, the annual conference of American Christian Fiction Writers. It’s a large and terrific writers conference, with top notch writing courses and plenty of opportunity for networking. This year there were something like 540 writers attending, and 60 faculty and staff. Donald Maass gave an all-day seminar on opening day, and Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker. In case you’ve ever wondered what a conference is like for an agent, here are a few notes from my personal perspective: * I generally enjoy writers’ conferences because I love nothing more than, talking, eating and breathing “publishing” and there’s no better place to do that! * The hardest part for me is staying “on” for hours on end, sometimes 14 hours with...
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