Make That Pitch Count

OWFI Virtual Workshop Transcript
March 28, 2019


Linda Apple [6:56 PM]
Okay, here are the guidelines:

•    VIVIAN will give the presentation first.

•    WHEN the speaker opens the floor to questions:

•    TYPE - ??

•    WAIT to be called on by the moderator, namely, me, aka Linda Apple

•    WHILE you are waiting to be called on, TYPE your question so you can send it as soon as it is your turn. This keeps the conversation moving forward without holding up others as you type.

•    Those speaking out of turn will not be acknowledged. Remember: ??

•    If I miss calling on you, just type ?? again. I’ll do my best to keep up, but should questions start popping all at once, I might get names out of order.  :wink:

•    IF you come in late and the presentation has already begun, make sure what you want to ask has not been covered already. It is distracting to have to go back over what has already been discussed.

Cary Herwig [6:57 PM]
Greetings all.

Linda Apple [6:57 PM]
Is this as clear as a frosted window pane?
Hi Cary!

Mary McCauley [6:57 PM]

Vivian Zabel [6:57 PM]
Let me know when it's my turn.

Linda Apple [6:57 PM]
I'm waiting until 7 to turn it over...

Vivian Zabel [6:58 PM]
Oh, duh, look at clock.

Linda Apple [6:58 PM]
Y'all, just remember, when you want to ask a question type ??
And it REALLY helps to have your question already typed out while waiting your turn.
It looks like everyone is here
I want to introduce my dear friend Vivian

Vivian Zabel [7:00 PM]
Hi, I'm glad everyone showed up. Giving a good pitch is close to my heart, uh, ear.

Linda Apple [7:00 PM]
This gal, teacher extraordinaire, and huge supporter of all writers has generously

Vivian Zabel [7:00 PM]
    I have taken pitches, forcing myself to keep my eyes from glazing over. Why? Because the person “pitching” his or her “baby” bored me. As an editor, publisher, agent, or a representative of any of the preceding, I do not want to hear how long you worked on your manuscript, how wonderful your friends or family believe it to be, or a summary of the whole story. I want you to make your book sound interesting enough that I want to read it – if it is a genre or type book I accept.

Linda Apple [7:01 PM]
offered her time to help you all!
So Vivian, take it away1

Vivian Zabel [7:02 PM]
Technical difficulties, just a minute.
First, let's look at a few pitches and see which would work.
#1:    I traveled a lot and thought other people would like to know about the experiences I had. I spent two years taking all my notes and photos and organizing them before I spent three years writing my manuscript. I know you will love it. The title of my book’s Title of Book, and everyone says it’s so interesting.
#2:    I know you don’t take this kind of book, but you will find it so interesting that you will want my manuscript anyway. Blah, blah, blah for the full 10 minutes allowed for the pitch (because I quit listening the minute you allowed your ego to decide I didn’t mean what I said about what I wanted).
#3:    A modern tale set in ancient times, this book contains suspense, romance, and a problem found still today, the sacrifice of children through neglect, abuse, and murder.
Judah, 8th Century BCE ... King Ahaz sat and watched his own infant placed in the hands of a red-hot bronze idol. He heard the child’s screams over the beating of 100 drums. He watched the child turn red, then black as it burned alive. He smelled the odor of burnt skin. Yet, he and his followers did what Moleck wanted, killing their own children.
Would a hero or heroes appear to help save these children? (brief pause)
Title of Book, a suspenseful, romantic, adventure.
#4:    Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn’t understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother’s death in 1921. Each day she prays he’ll return and take his children home.
     God, however, isn’t listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage.
Leona vows she’ll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets. (brief pause)
    Title of Book, a story for tweens based on fact about an orphan train.
Think about the four examples. Which attracts your attention? Which doesn’t? How can you have a pitch that attracts positive attention? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to prepare you to prepare your pitch.

Pepper Hume [7:08 PM]
The king shows no emotion. I like Leona who does.

Vivian Zabel [7:08 PM]
I.    Research and preparation before preparing the pitch is a must.
1. Read the guidelines: What does the person taking pitches want? You can’t decide that         he/she will want your work anyway and push ahead.
2. Visit the publisher’s or agent’s website: See what they require for submissions, and follow that guideline when preparing your pitch.
3.  Help the publisher define your book: Know your primary genre, your secondary, and             third, if you have several mixed together. Make up your mind before you try to             give a pitch.
(sorry spacing is crazy)
Ask yourself which is the most important part of your manuscript? What is the most marketable aspect of it?
Know the target audience. No one can please everyone with the same book, so know who will be most interested in yours.
See if the agent or publisher has similar books to yours. Is yours complimentary, unique, more inclusive, etc.
4. Address the publisher’s/agent’s needs. Unless the person taking the pitch asks, don’t talk about your background or personal motivation or needs. Don’t waste your time on generalities. You want to “sell” your manuscript, not yourself. However, you do want to make a good personal impression by looking, acting, and talking professionally.
NOTE for nonfiction writers: If you use interviews, do you have release forms? Discover what type of permission you will need for a specific agent or publisher. Do you have the rights to any photos or illustrations?
5. Be able to tell them how you can and will market your book. If the subject comes up, be prepared to discuss the subject intelligently.
You may never use any of the above information directly during a pitch session, but you need it for your preparation and in case you are asked questions that require answers over the preceding material.

II.    The PITCH  --
    Authors need to “pitch” their books so that the agent, editor, or publisher wants to know more, to read it, maybe put it under contract.  After they have written the main speech, authors need to write notes and practice giving the speech so that it flows smoothly but still seems spontaneous.
Knowing how to prepare and present a pitch (no matter what the length) should be a tool in an author’s selling kit. If an author has three minutes, five minutes, or ten minutes, the pitch can be adjusted accordingly, but the attention-getter should be used completely (so, tighten and condense without losing impact).
I’ll be using a pitch I prepared and delivered as an example as I go over the steps of the pitch itself.
1. Start with an attention-grabber, a hook. This is a must. If you lose the audience whether one person or 100 at the beginning, you can’t get them back.  Just as the first paragraph     in a story, article, or novel must attract the reader, the first words out of your mouth must do the same.
I started my spiel with the statement: “When life steals something important from a person, she either gives up and allows a part of herself to die, or she finds a way to rebuild her life.”
2.  Do not give a complete summary of your book. Give just enough information that the agent/publisher/editor wants to know more.
I continued my pitch by saying, “Life stole much from Torri, including her marriage destroyed by an unfaithful husband and her best friend dying from cancer. Each time, she gathers her courage and  rebuilds her life. However, when her ex-husband steals her children, she doesn’t know if she can continue.”
        Stolen, a mainstream novel about life, loss, and love
3. If asked, be prepared to tell why you wrote the book, but don’t offer to tell unless asked. Be sincere and know who your intended readers are.
4. Rehearse so that you don’t ramble. You don’t want your speech to sound memorized, but you need to know the main points and the order in which to present them. Remember, you are selling a book, yours.
5. Be prepared for any questions the agent or publisher might ask. Rehearse how you would answer certain questions, be prepared just in case questions are asked.

I do have an assignment for you after any discussion. Any questions or comments?

Linda Apple [7:24 PM]
Questions anyone? Be sure and type ??
And remember we will have a transcript of this for you all

Vivian Zabel [7:24 PM]
I hope I didn't put people to sleep.

Pepper Hume [7:24 PM]

Linda Apple [7:24 PM]
No, I think everyone is scribbling notes

Linda Shelby [7:24 PM]

Linda Apple [7:25 PM]
Linda after Pepper

Pepper Hume [7:25 PM]
How important is it to have a clear idea of genre for your book?

Vivian Zabel [7:25 PM]
Not always, but at least know what genres it may include.

Julia Mozingo [7:25 PM]

Linda Apple [7:25 PM]
Julia after Linda

Linda Shelby [7:26 PM]
Is it ever okay to read your pitch?

Vivian Zabel [7:26 PM]
No, please don't. Remember be professional. I would look over my notes that I studied again just before I went in, though.

Linda Apple [7:27 PM]

Julia Mozingo [7:27 PM]
You said --
5. Be prepared for any questions the agent or publisher might ask.
What are some questions we need to be prepared for?

Vivian Zabel [7:28 PM]
What theme does your manuscript have? Why should I be interested in your manuscript? Are you finished? How would you promote and market? Give me a quick summary about your main characters.

DeAnna Britt [7:29 PM]

Vivian Zabel [7:29 PM]
Does it have a happy, sad, or loose ending?
Just a few.

Julia Mozingo [7:29 PM]
Thank you!

Linda Apple [7:29 PM]

Linda Shelby [7:30 PM]

Linda Apple [7:30 PM]
Linda after DeAnna

DeAnna Britt [7:30 PM]
You mentioned to look and be professional.  do you have a preference in attire?  Business dress versus business casual?

Mary McCauley [7:30 PM]

Linda Apple [7:30 PM]
Mary after Linda

Vivian Zabel [7:30 PM]
Attire, definitely.
Business dress is best.

Linda Apple [7:31 PM]

Linda Shelby [7:31 PM]
If you have a published novel, can you pitch on that is not finished? It would seem having published one would prove that you can finish a book.

Vivian Zabel [7:32 PM]
I used my pitch for the 3rd example.

Linda Apple [7:33 PM]
Vivian, so are you saying to Linda that it is okay?

Vivian Zabel [7:33 PM]
Sorry, I was distracted, answered incorrectly.
You can pitch a book not finished, but it should be at close to the end of the process -- for some editors, agents. I accept some not finished, but I like to see the finished work at least within a year.

Linda Apple [7:34 PM]

Mary McCauley [7:34 PM]
Are publishers and agents getting more politically correct? Have the type of genres changed in regards to thing like trans people and ideas that are changing so fast in the society?

Vivian Zabel [7:35 PM]
Some are; some aren't. Use their website guidelines.
I, for one, am very conservative; others aren't.

Linda Apple [7:36 PM]
Amy Brewer of Metamorphosis is interested in that genre

Mary McCauley [7:36 PM]
I am conservative also

Linda Apple [7:37 PM]
Any more questions before Viv's assignment?
Okay Vivian,
What is our assignment?

Vivian Zabel [7:38 PM]
Okay, 10 minutes: *** Write a short pitch for a book you’ve written, you’re writing, or that you’ve recently read ***
keys stuck

Cary Herwig [7:39 PM]

Linda Apple [7:39 PM]

Cary Herwig [7:39 PM]
to send here?

Vivian Zabel [7:39 PM]
I will ask in 10 minutes if anyone wants to share (in writing, of course).

Cary Herwig [7:39 PM]

Linda Shelby [7:40 PM]

Linda Apple [7:41 PM]

Vivian Zabel [7:41 PM]
Copy paste is a good idea, if you do share.

Linda Shelby [7:41 PM]
How many words? My pitch is not as short as the ones Vivian posted.

Vivian Zabel [7:42 PM]
Those examples were short, but remember you only have 10 minutes to pitch, usually. So you need to leave time for questions the agent, editor, etc. may ask.
I suggest a pitch not be over a typed page.
double spaced
You will have more information in your head, of course.

Linda Shelby [7:44 PM]
90,000 word historical romance.

In 1868, twelve-year-old Anna is stolen from a wagon train by a Sioux brave. Her captor watched her gather herbs as the wagons crossed the mountains and he believes she is a medicine woman. He takes her to grandfather chief, who is ailing, and she is tasked with the old man’s care.

After ten years captivity, Anna is determined to return to white civilization. She takes a pony and steals away in the night. When the pony gets snake bit, she is rescued by an ailing whorehouse madam who has her own plans for the young herbalist.

At the brothel, Anna comes face to face with a fur trader who had once made the old chief an offer for her. Now, here he is in the white man’s world, making an offer for her again.

Vivian Zabel [7:46 PM]

Linda Apple [7:46 PM]
I want to read that!!!

Vivian Zabel [7:46 PM]
Me, too.

Cary Herwig [7:46 PM]
The second time Broncho died, his name was Zack.  Both times he life ended in wildfires, common in New Mexico where he died the first time, and in Oklahoma the second time.  Sheriff Otis of Filmore County asks Sydney St. John if she can research the deceased's career in school at NMSU and during his rodeoing days.  His second life, as a restaurateur in OKC was a surprise to everyone.  In Oklahoma, weather often determines the day in everyone's life.  But in New Mexico, she discovers others are interested in what happened to the dead man.  Mystery, 70,000 words, title: Wildfires.

Linda Apple [7:47 PM]
I wanna read that too!

Linda Shelby [7:47 PM]
It is not finished, but I know this story front to back.

Linda Apple [7:47 PM]
Love the first line!

Vivian Zabel [7:47 PM]
Me, too. Hey, I want first choice on both of these.

Cary Herwig [7:47 PM]
Make me an offer.  LoL

Vivian Zabel [7:47 PM]
Very good, ladies.
Talk to me at the conference, if you're attending.

Cary Herwig [7:48 PM]
I am and I will.

Vivian Zabel [7:48 PM]
Cary, 4RV is having a meet and greet during buzz session time, and I am taking pitches.
both days

Linda Shelby [7:49 PM]
I love Wildfires. I would read it in a heartbeat.

Cary Herwig [7:49 PM]
Thanks. I'll put that on my schedule.

Linda Apple [7:49 PM]
Anyone else? We have 11 minutes

Vivian Zabel [7:50 PM]
Surely someone else is brave.

Pepper Hume [7:50 PM]
Brave yes, but not prepared.

Vivian Zabel [7:50 PM]
Wave if you are when you finish.

Linda Apple [7:50 PM]

Vivian Zabel [7:51 PM]
Those who aren't prepared, do you have tools now to prepare?

Julia Mozingo [7:51 PM]
Great presentation,  Vivian. Very informative.

Vivian Zabel [7:51 PM]
Linda and Cary, good jobs on your pitches.

DeAnna Britt [7:51 PM]
Yes, Thank you

Cary Herwig [7:52 PM]
Thank you.

Pepper Hume [7:52 PM]
Oh yes! Trouble is, the book I have finished to pitch is overwhelmed in my mind right now by the book I'm working on!

Vivian Zabel [7:52 PM]
Don't you hate that, Pepper. One book just crawls in and takes over.
Anyway else I can help?
If anyone has questions or wants help, email me.

Pepper Hume [7:54 PM]
How specific should we get in pitching the actual story? Names, time frame...

Mary McCauley [7:54 PM]
What is your email?

Linda Apple [7:54 PM]
Would you give your email addy

Vivian Zabel [7:54 PM]
Only as specific as the person wants and asks.

Cary Herwig [7:55 PM]

Linda Apple [7:55 PM]
5 minutes! Now is the time to ask any lingering questions or share your pitch

Mary McCauley [7:55 PM]
This was a wonderful workshop. I learned so much

Vivian Zabel [7:56 PM]
Anyone who knows me can tell you I'm approachable.
Thanks, Mary.

Linda Apple [7:56 PM]
Linda and Cary...get to writing!!!!!!

Cary Herwig [7:56 PM]
You betcha.

Pepper Hume [7:56 PM]
Ditto! I feel ever so much better prepared for the conference, having some idea of how to start.

Mary McCauley [7:57 PM]
When should you just give up on something that your writing?

Vivian Zabel [7:57 PM]
Thanks, everyone, for coming.

Staci Mauney [7:57 PM]
Thanks, Vivian! This was great information!

Cary Herwig [7:57 PM]
Bye, all.

Vivian Zabel [7:57 PM]
Don't give up, but you might lay it aside for a while and come back to it, Mary.

Linda Apple [7:57 PM]
Mary, set it aside for a while
Sometimes stories just need to marinate

Julia Mozingo [7:58 PM]
Thank you, Vivian!

Linda Shelby [7:58 PM]
Very informative. Thanks you Linda Apple and Vivian Zabel.

Linda Apple [7:58 PM]
Okay group, Thank you all for coming! Thank you Vivian! Night all1

Julia Mozingo [7:58 PM]
Thank you, Linda Apple for moderating!

Pepper Hume [7:58 PM]
Mary, the first book I started over ten years ago and laid aside, won its category a couple of years back. Now I know it's worth pursuing!

Linda Apple [7:58 PM]
My pleasure!

Vivian Zabel [7:59 PM]
Goodnight, all.