Create a Winning “Elevator Pitch” to Agents/Publishers

You’ll be asked some version of the question, “And what do you write?” In advance, think how to respond. Called an “elevator pitch” because you need to answer in the time it takes to ride the elevator to your room. Your most important “pitch” will be those in position to represent/publish your book. You’ll only have a few minutes. Here are tips for making the most of those contacts.

1. Register early for your “pitch” to agents/publishers/editors that best fit your work. Appointments are limited. If sessions are not full, you may be able to sign up for an additional slot.

2. Research the person(s) you’re meeting. Why do you feel they can best represent you and your book? Research authors they handle in your genre. Who publishes books similar to your style? Or offer your own style that is different and why. Avoid asking questions that you should already know the answers.

3. Be confident—smile, introduce yourself, shake their hand, and offer your business card. State the genre, title, status of work. State your experience if applicable. For fiction, outline the conflict between/among characters and final resolution. For nonfiction, describe your passion for the work and your credentials for finishing a successful book. For all genres, describe your target audience and areas where you can contribute marketing efforts. Authors are more and more responsibility in whole or in part for selling their work. (Series 5 offers marketing ideas.)

4. Leave about five minutes of the 10-minute session for their questions or suggestions for you. This is critical information for follow-up with the agent/publisher/editor. They may say your work is not for their company, but suggest that you contact another person or agency. Don’t take this as a negative—any interest is positive.

5. Good advice is not to hand a complete manuscript to the pro. They usually don’t want to take manuscripts home with them. However—just in case they ask—have on hand in your folder/briefcase a synopsis, chapter outline, bio with pic, or first three chapters.

6. If they say, “Send me....” Respond immediately following the conference with exactly what they request. These people often go from conference to conference and need to be reminded of you and their request asap. Label your response with “Requested Material” and conference name. Remind them of your conversation and why you’re sending that particular work.

7. A follow-up “thank-you” note is always a good thing—whether they reject your work or not.

Click a title for more tips on Making the Most of Writers' Conferences:
Part 1: Select the Conference Best Suited to You
Part 2: Spend Less Money at Conferences – and Still Have Fun!
Part 3: Maximize Face-Time with other writers/agents/publishers

Marilyn H. Collins—author, workshop leader, publisher, writing coach, editorial services Contact:
Copyright © CHS Publishing, Marilyn H. Collins, 2017.