Prior to the big editors and agents forum, this year's PNWA conference held an introductory workshop focusing on key elements of book pitches. Chuck Sambuchino, author of How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, hosted this seminar.
In this hour-long workshop, Chuck touched on some dos and don'ts to keep in mind during a pitch session with an agent or editor:
--Don't send agents any more material than what they ask for.
--Don't give them hardcopies, because they don't want to lug around paper from 50 or more writers.
--Don't pass them your business card, but ask them for theirs.
--And most importantly, don't give away the ending.
--The pitch should be 3-10 sentences long. The narrative should be similar to "the back of the DVD box."
--After introductions, talk about the details and the logline of the book.
--Details consist of: Title, word count, genre and whether the book is finished or not.
--Logline: A one-sentence summary of the book.
--Start with the main characters.
--Include the inciting incident. What propels the story into motion? What is the conflict?
--Optional: Discuss the character arc. Does the protagonist change?
Some cautionary notes include:
--Avoid general terms. Be specific.
--Caveat for sci-fi novels: Avoid using proper names for worlds an races.
--Avoid delving into subplots.
The advice given above, was primarily geared for fiction. Pitching non-fiction books has some different elements:
--Pitches tend to be dry and factual. Have a good book idea and discuss your credentials with the agent.
--Have a platform. Who is your target audience?
--The exception: Memoirs are treated like fiction.
Finally, the #1 reason why agents & editors refuse to publish someone's work: It was turned in too early, often after writing the first draft. It would be best to submit your book after finishing the 2nd or even 3rd draft.