Saturday, June 27, 2015

And Here's the Pitch....

By Lacey Gunter

In my post 2 weeks ago, I sought out advice for a live pitch session I had with a children's editor from a big publishing company last week. I promised to report back on my experience, so here it is.

First I want to report that no matter what happens, I had very good experience meeting with the editor and attending the workshop that accompanied the meeting. I learned a lot and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.

I spent my preparation time formulating, editing and practicing pitches for 3 different picture book manuscripts. I had 12 minutes with the editor, so I wanted plenty of potential discussion topics.  This preparation helped to solidify the main themes of my manuscripts and how to talk about them with someone.  It was great practice coming up with less than 25 word summaries for the manuscripts. This skill is very useful for constructing query letters and twitter pitches. 

Practicing the pitches verbally was also very instructive. People tend to talk differently than they write and it took me two face-to-face practice sessions before I realized I needed to write my pitches and practice them in a way I would speak to someone about the manuscript, not write about it. This doesn't seem like that big of a deal until you try it. I strongly, strongly recommend practicing conversing with people before you live pitch.

Try to practice with someone who is savvy enough to ask meaningful questions about the manuscript so you can talk freely about a wide range of topics on the manuscript, not just recite a memorized pitch. Your confidence in conversing will improve after practicing this.

Having said all that, during my preparations I kept wondering about whether agents and editors care all that much about verbal pitches for picture book manuscripts when they can just quickly read or peruse the entire manuscript and make a definitive decision. So I wisely chose to bring copies of the manuscripts along with me.

When I met with the editor she was very kind and easy to talk with. One of the best parts of the experience was to see that editors and agents aren't some super human, they are ordinary people like you and me and you don't have to be so nervous or afraid to talk to them. As I suspected, she listened kindly to my pitch, but really just wanted to see the manuscript. So I just took out my 3 manuscripts for her to review.

I am very glad I prepared three, because the first one matched too closely to a series her imprint is already publishing and it was respectfully dismissed pretty quickly. So I was able to show her and talk about my other two manuscripts.  She had positive feedback to give me on both of the manuscripts along with some suggested edits. She thought they were both very humorous and, happily, she gave me her business card and asked me to send her the manuscripts after I had completed the suggested edits. We will have to see if she is seriously considering either of the manuscripts after I send them in, but I did take note that some people at the meeting reported not getting any requests. So, who knows? What I do know, is that the suggestions she gave me have made my manuscripts stronger, and she cleared up some long standing questions I had about how to present one of the manuscripts.  That alone made the meeting very worthwhile.

So, if you are considered signing up for a live pitch session at a conference, I'd say go for it. You may not walk away with a manuscript request, but it will likely be a good learning experience and I wish you all the luck!


  1. Awesome, Lacey! I felt the same way- it's a great chance to really whittle your story or book down to its basic premise, and it's also a great way to get some good feedback from people who know what they're talking about.

    Congrats on having what sounds to me like a very successful experience!

  2. Great job, Lacey! Half of the battle is getting up the guts to do it, and you've done it! It's like speaking a language you've learned but not had to use--it's hard to get your tongue and brain to work that way. Once you've started, though, it gets easier. It helps to see agents and editors live and in person and realize they're just normal people (with enormous power to make our life's dreams come true, but still, normal people). Congratulations on your positive experience and here's hoping for continued success!

  3. Bloody great............that's all I have to say



Related Posts with Thumbnails