Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pitching to an Editor

The Romance Writers of America conference (RWA) might be over a month away, but it's never too soon to start working on my pitch for my editor appointment. Publishing has changed drastically since the first time I made a pitch - so has my attitude. I'm relaxed and view the experience as an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who I want to read my book.  It goes with out saying that there is motive behind this face to face.

I have found that most editors will tell you to send them the manuscript. This doesn't mean that you've made the sale. That's not what a pitch is for. A pitch gives you the best opportunity to sit across from an editor and get them to agree to read your manuscript.

Making an appointment is the easy part. RWA requires you sign a statement that you are published or have a full manuscript. This rule came about because many writers who pitch never send in the requested material. Remember, editors and agents are there to find new stories. Hopefully, your story will be one of them.

Where to start

After the introductions, describe your story as a combination of two movies, books, or TV shows.  Something like - Sex in the City meets Bones. Make sure it fits your story. Elaborate and tell the editor a short version of your book. Remember you only have ten minutes.
A good pitch is a conversation. Make it interesting. Add a personal tibit related to the story. Does the setting or theme have a personal connection? 

Include the title

Don't forget to mention the title. The description of the book should make it clear why you chose the title. You can always add that it is only a working title.

Throw the ball back

You aren't expected to do all the talking. Ask if the story is something the editor is interested in for the genre/line you are pitching to. Give the editor the opportunity to ask questions. These questions will often be specific to your characters goals and conflicts. Give answers that will leave an impression.

Be professional

Have a business card handy. After a full morning of pitches, editors will need a physical memento of your chat. Dress professionally. I have seen authors dressed in character costumes. Definitely memorable, but more appropriate for Comic Con.

Take a breath. It's over. Enjoy the rest of the conference. When you get home - polish your manuscript. Send a letter mentioning your meeting when you submit.


  1. Pitching can be very scary. I was petrified the day of my first appointment. But I met a wonderful editor, who didn't buy the manuscript, but became a dear friend. Business and pleasure have to be two entirely separate entities in our world.

    Here's my mantra - celebrate the disappointments - because you finished your manuscript and submitted, and then at least then you get to eat cake!!!

    1. For me the self publishing option has taken away the anxiety of pitching.

  2. I've only pitched once and it was surreal. Like you, Zelda, I'm glad to have self pub as an option. I've found that the combination of traditional and self publishing works for me. They complement each other and having options gives me the feeling that I have at least some control over my writing destiny.

  3. I agree. I won't feel bad if the manuscript is rejected. The only problem is the time it takes to hear back.