4 Things to Know When You Attend a Book Pitching Event

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Pitch an unpublished book.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.

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Pitching a Book: Allergies, colds, and mothering…oh my!

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I am an avid believer that in life there are no excuses…except during allergy season in Atlanta, when your fighting a cold and when your a mother — there are no days off in motherhood. So, my goal of pitching to a literary agent each week in March was delayed, until last week.

Check out my Writing vlog on YouTube

That’s right, I pitched to two agents last week. That means I’ve pitched to three agents since Feb. 25 — and I’ve heard back from two already! But I’ll share those details next week.

What I want to touch on this week is what you need to do even before you begin pitching your romance, erotic, fantasy, middle grade, YA or non-fiction (and so on) masterpiece. There are levels to this pitching thang and here is what I’ve learned since I’ve started.

Query Letter

As I shared before in my post Pitching to Literary Agents: See what had happened was…, your query letter not only summarizes your novel or novella, it sells the book. Be sure to include the word count, the genre(s), the audience who would love your book and who you’re book is similar to. That last part has been hard for me because I only like certain erotic stories, and they are mostly the classics.

But, if you can relate your book to a current author or novel, be sure to mention it in your query letter.

Oh and keep this to one page because a lot of agents just want this in an email and they are not going to read anything longer.

Synopsis

This was THE HARDEST piece to pull together for me but in the end, it was worth it because it helped me find those hidden holes in my own story. Again, in the post that I shared earlier, I touched on the importance of this piece.

Yes, no one wants to give away their whole book in 2-5 pages but you must in order to give some agents a full look your storyline.

Remember: this helps them figure out any holes and as I found out, it will help you too.

The FULLL EDITED Manuscript

Originally, I shared that you should have the first three chapters ready. Now I’m changing that to having the full piece completely edited. That means peer groups, hiring an editor, and reviewing it until you want to throw it across the room or are dreaming continuously about every word, every period, hell maybe even the amount of tabs throughout (or is that just me).

This is mandatory because some agents will ask for the first 10 pages or the first three chapters or the first 20 pages or the whole damn thing!! The idea is to be prepared for whatever their request may be. It could be the difference between making the connection now or missing the boat.

We’ll folks, that all I have time for! I’ve back on a normal writing schedule working on book two in this series, and preparing for passion-fy release sooner than later (thank to everyone who voted on instagram)!

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Letting Creativity Flow

Okay passion-fy family, my words have been flowing and my motivation to push my writing and creative desires further are getting stronger and stronger by the second. And let me give a quick shout out to my personal board of directors for giving me life and tell me to quit it with the excuses. So here’s a quick download of my next steps:

Third Book is 97% Completed

I promise y’all, I thought I was finished until I uncovered another chapter in my brain dump of this novella/novel (It’s teetering closer to a novel now) but now I’m wrapping this sucker up. I plan to have this completed by mid-September so I can get it over to an editor (or two) and start pitching it by the end of September. I’m not playing folks. I can’t play anymore because I have at least four more stories dying to get out and I can barely stay focus on this one. But it’s coming I know. A two-year hiatus in publishing isn’t too bad…wait, I was published recently by Z Publishing. If you missed that news, catch up with the previous post.

YouTube Restart and Podcast Launch

I’ve been asked by several writers if I’m going to start back up on the vlogs, and the answer was yes until life happened (baby, moving, motherhood, wifin’, career change, and the list goes on). But I’m for real this time and I’m even going to partner with another fellow YouTuber to start a new channel. Videos are in progress so make sure that you’re following my channel to stay updated on the latest uploads. While you’re there, check out some of the oldies too.

Pushing the Ps: Pitching, pushing, producing

I’ve hit the producing part in the first two sections. But the other two are a bit more complicated for me. For pitching, I’m actively searching for a passionate literary agent. And I don’t someone necessarily into the topics I write about (even though that would be ideal) but someone who is as passionate about their job and role in my career as I am about writing. I’m looking for my Puff Daddy. I want my next piece to get picked up and I know that having someone like that on my team could be a career changer.

Now in regards to pushing, I’ve got to get the word out about my current and previous projects. As a writer, I’m an introvert. I like to do things behind the scene and if someone notices the final project, if not, that’s cool too…but that’s THE WRONG thought process if I want to live off of my books one day. So, to combat my¬†introvertedness (it’s a word, I promise), I’m pushing myself to not only promote my books and passion pieces more on social media and other channels but also send out copies to people who I would love to read my book — no matter how unlikely it is that they get it. Faith always has the final answer.

Stay tuned…

With passion,

DNC

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#Writerslife Proposals, Pitching, Queries…oh my!

This week, I stopped by one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses, and caught this great one on all of the above.

They really tackle some of the old vs. new outlook on pitching, proposals and queries.

Even if you’re not at this place yet, it’s great to keep these thoughts, tips and tricks in your back pocket.

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Stay passionate!

-DNC