I’m pitching Veiled Mirror to agent Kevan Lyon this evening. Ms.Lyon is in town to participate in the 2nd annual Festival of Books, an event that drew nearly 50,000 people last year. She’s having dinner with a group of us from the local Romance Writers of America chapter tonight, and listening to a few of us pitch.
Most writers dread pitching as much as writing the dreaded synopsis whether it’s a scheduled session (like tonight’s) an elevator pitch (one minute or less). There have even been bathroom pitches — which are strongly advised against.
There’s all sorts of advice out there about how to prepare the perfect pitch so I won’t go into that here. But why does it make many writers quake in their boots? It’s not as if all depends on one’s eloquence. The agent (or editor) is NOT going to make a decision about your book based on your pitch. Her decision will be based on your work itself. At worst, you might so offend her that she’ll never want to hear from you again, but if you’re reasonably well house-trained that won’t happen. In most cases, the only reason an agent will say not to send a partial is if the book is just not the kind of thing she represents, and if you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that already and won’t be wasting her, or your, time.
Why pitch, then, if only your writing will persuade them and the best you can hope for is a quicker than usual turn around time? Most new authors approach the pitch as supplicants. “Please like me! Please represent my book!” That’s a natural desire when it’s so hard to break in. But in my opinion, that’s a mistake. The main reason to pitch is to interview the agent and to show you’re professional and easy to work with. You already know a bit about her if you’ve read her website. This is your chance to get a sense of her as a person. And if it doesn’t feel like a match, move on. Think of it as speed-dating. An oft repeated bit of advice is that a bad agent is worse than no agent.
If you come to the pitch as the person doing the hiring, there’s no reason to be nervous. Now if only the dreaded synopsis could be dealt with so easily.