Online pitching 101

I have a dirty word for you…


There.  I said it.

I’ve never pitched an agent or editor in person, but I have had the opportunity to pitch online.  Obviously there are some differences, (when pitching online, pants are optional and you can show up wearing hot pink bunny slippers–in person…not so much) but I imagine the basics are pretty much the same.

Let me start by saying I’m not an expert.  The words of wisdom and advice I offer come strictly from observation and my own personal experiences.  My first pitch was just short of a natural disaster.  The agent fired off questions and I was so nervous and flustered, I either missed them, or answered poorly.  As you can probably guess, I didn’t get a request out of that one.  I’ve learned a lot since then, and as one of the pitch wranglers for Savvy Authors, I’ve seen others make the same mistakes I did.

1.   Number one is the most important IMO, as well as the most simple.  SHOW UP ON TIME. No one likes being made to wait.  Agents and editors take time out of their already hectic schedules to hear/read your pitch.  If for some reason you’re running late, tell someone.  A pitch is like a job interview.  Would you show up to a job interview late?  Not unless you wanted to make a crummy first impression!  Of course there are always exceptions, but there’s usually a way to let someone know if your running behind.  Never, ever pull a no-show.  In some cases, this will get you blacklisted from further pitching events.  In others, if the agent has a list of those pitching, there’s a good chance they’ll remember your name.

2.   SHOW UP PREPARED. This one is a three parter.

Know when you’re pitching. Do your homework before hand.  Know the date and time.  Set yourself a million reminders if you have to.  I set the alarm on my cell phone calendar to beep at me the day before, and then again 3 hours before.

Know where you’re pitching.  If it’s a chatroom, get the information and passwords before hand.  Ask questions if you’re not sure where to meet.  Don’t leave these things till the last-minute.  If something goes wrong, you’ll miss out and possibly make a bad impression on the agent.

Know what you’re pitching.  Know your book. Duh, right?  You’d be surprised how many people botch a pitch because the agent asks questions that the author wasn’t prepared to answer!  Pull up a word doc and have your pitch ready to cut and paste. (time is limited and you don’t want to waste it typing out your pitch!)  I also jot down notes on my characters, the plot, and other random bits.  It’s not an exact science since you have no way to know what questions you’ll be asked, but it helps to organize your thoughts.  Know the agent. Don’t go in and pitch a steampunk to an agent looking for paranormal romance.  You’re wasting their time, and yours.  Never, ever go in to pitch something that’s not finished and ready to go.  Do you really want to tell them it’s not available if they ask to see it?

3.   DON’T BE NERVOUS. Okay, I have a hard time with this one.  But it’s normal to be nervous.  Our books are our babies.  But agents and editors are looking for authors.  They want to hear your pitch, otherwise they wouldn’t be there.  Think of it as having a conversation with a friend about your book.  Remember everyone’s taste will vary.  If an agent or editor isn’t enthusiastic, then they’re not the one for you.  You want someone that’s going to love your book as much as you do!

Want some tips on pulling off the perfect pitch?   Visit the fabulous JoJo Jensen for the low down on what to do…and what not to do!  You can also take part in a little something JoJo is doing called Pimp My Pitch.  Email your pitch to : For the full Pimp My Pitch article, go here.

2 Responses to “Online pitching 101”
  1. Great advice. I’ll have to remember these points the next time I make a pitch.


  2. Lori says:

    Well said. I made a mess of my first online pitch also. I pitched to an editor. She was nice but she ripped my pitch apart. She said it was too ‘busy’ and didn’t focus on the story. After spending more time on it I saw she was right. It told more about the hero of the story and he was never the main focus.

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