I attended my first Black Writers Weekend in Atlanta this past June and all I can say is that it was incredibly dope. And for two reason; first I was able to pitch my third manuscript to a group of women who are experts in the writing arena (one who was a literary agent on my current pitching list); and secondly, I jumped on a last minute opportunity to sell my babies and connect with other authors from around Atlanta.
For this post, I’ll focus on the event that had me shook — pitching my book…verbally. When I first learned of this opportunity, I was scared out of my mind. There is just something about the unknown that is horrifying and not truly understanding how it would be to say a pitch about my book out loud to experts in the industry, blew my mind and confidence.
Thank God I have a dope network of sister/friends around me to keep me focused and challenge my fears. So through all of the unknowns, I signed up for the event and began preparing weeks out for p-day. There were so many things that I learned through both the prep and the post of the event that I have to share them with you all. These four nuggets set me up for success and I want you to make sure you’re ready for your opportunity too.
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4 Tips You Should Know Before Pitching your Book
Pitch an unpublished book. This is a point that unfortunately most of my colleagues did not think about prior to the event. Let this be the moment that you decided to get out there and connect with others in the world of writing because if I had not been told by another author not to push any of my current public babies, I would have fallen in with the others. One of the tips that the group of experts gave us prior to pouring our hearts out about our novels, was that it’s a lot harder for a publisher to pick up an author who has already introduced the book to the public. Yes, you read that right, I did say harder and not impossible, but just think about whether you would rather take a car up the mountain or walk that sucker.
Perfect your portfolio. For most pitching events, you will need certain printed material to support your words. For the Dope Reads pitching event that I attended, I had to have an author resume (I used my media kit), the book synopsis, and the first three polished chapters. I also included my business card too, so they could see how serious I am about this #writerlife. Once it was my turn to present, they all had materials to take back with them, which was more than others had at the event.
Hone your pitch. Doing all that prep work with the synopsis and fine-tuning your first three chapters will get your mind moving about how to describe your book. What you want to do is nail it down to a two- to five-minute elevator pitch. Highlight your key characters and the conflict (but don’t give away the ending), know and say your word count (they don’t care about how many pages, it’s all about how your word count fits your genre), describe who your book could sit next to, and what trope your novel falls into, particularly if it’s one that is pertinent to society right now. Then practice it out loud over and over again. Want to really test your pitch? Tell it to a stranger and see if they’re interested.
Be confident about your work and who you are as a writer. It’s tough when you get into a room and see a bunch of authors working toward the same exact step as you. You may start wondering what makes you different? Why your book and not theirs? But don’t start comparing your words to theirs. Your story is one that can only be told by you. It’s like having a superpower; you’re the only one who can control it and use it for good. Be proud of your work and how far you’ve come, then go shine like the sun is counting on you.
If you cover these four points, you will be ready to knock that pitch out of the park (see what I did there). If there is one thing you get from this post, let it be that if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Opportunity is coming.