Saturday, September 3, 2011

How to Survive a Pitch Session by Chuck Sambuchino

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.

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