Polishing my Pitch for the FF&P Fantasy on the Bayou Conference this weekend

funny pictures-RAWR! Iz I doin it rite? RAWWWR!!!I’ve had a nervous stomach since last Wednesday when I realized this conference was only a little over a week away. Now it’s only a couple of days. Eeep!

Been hitting the Chamomile Tea pretty hard to calm the ole stomach….

Reason I’m nervous? Not only is it my first writer’s conference, but I’ll be pitching to three agents. Never done it before. For the non-writers who might be reading this, I basically have about 8 minutes to verbally infuse that agent with a hot, burning need to read my manuscript. Can I say ‘Eeep’ again?

They say you should memorize about 3 to 4 sentences to pitch and that the agent will ask questions. Is that about right?

So I thought I’d indulge myself by running several by y’all. They say it also needs to sound conversational… So here it goes, FWIW:

A) MUST LOVE BREECHES is a completed 98,000 word time-travel romance. When a thoroughly modern American girl finds herself stranded in 1834 London, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her attraction to a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies. 

or:

B) MUST LOVE BREECHES is a completed 98,000 word time-travel romance. It’s about a quirky modern American who has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem–he lives in 1834. She has sworn off ever doing the follow-the-boyfriend move again. But when she’s accidentally transported to 1834 London, she has a hard time resisting the hunky lord known as the Vicious Viscount. She wants to find the silver case that transported her through time so she can return to her carefully crafted life in the present, but when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his own scheme of revenge, she ultimately has to decide when her true home lies. One of the fun things about it, besides the yummy hero, is that she is befriended by Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter, and meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Difference Engine. I’ve tried for a light, humorous touch, while also exploring aspects of 1830s London that’s not typical: the scientific.

I know mentioning other characters in a pitch is usually bad, but the thing is, Ada Byron Lovelace is a major secondary character. She is one of the “high concept” things about the book. Whenever I mention she’s in it to someone who asks me what my book is about, they perk up with that bit. Also, it’s timely–Steve Job’s biographer’s next subject will be her. Folks into steampunk love Lovelace and Babbage.

I’ve tried to get my goal, motivation and conflict in each, my theme, and (B) also includes the Act One turning point.

I see (A) as my elevator/cocktail bar pitch and (B) as my actual pitch? Will I have enough time for B?

Some resources I found, if you’re faced with doing a verbal pitch session soon:

I’ve done my research on the agents, now I just need to nail down my pitch and memorize it. I’m also going into it with the attitude that the agent will know I’m nervous, it’s to be expected. Hopefully that will make me less nervous. I’m going to go in positive…

How about you? Do you have any advice? Are you going to the conference? Do you have any funny pitch stories to share?

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11 Comments

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog post. I appreciate it very much. I hope it helps you get ready for that conference you’re heading to.

    Good luck with your pitch! Relax. You’ve got a great story. I’d say for sure to use the first four lines of the second one to Vicious Viscount. Those pulled me in. Tell that she’s stuck there unless she can find the silver case that transported her there. Take a deep breath! You can do this!

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Reply
  2. I found pitch B to be more interesting and engaging, though A was good for an elevator pitch since it gets all the important stuff in (er, not to make it sound like it’s not interesting. Because it is. But the longer one has more time to be more interesting… I’m going to stop digging now). I’ve never pitched anything so I don’t know about time, but one blog I read suggested about five sentences, and pause between them so the agents can ask question.

    The one thing I did notice is that in neither of these pitches did you mention your main character’s name. I was going to suggest perhaps modifying your first line to, “There’s just one problem with the man of [main character]‘s dreams–he lives in 1834.” I think the time travel thing is obviously your biggest hook, and putting it in the first sentence would definitely catch my attention.

    Anyway, hope this helps a little. Good luck!

    Reply
  3. A was good as a starter, but it’s a little generic. B, while longer (you could probably cut a little) is much more interesting and will really hook someone. God is in the details.

    You can do it! Can’t wait to hear all about it! And see you Thursday. :)

    Reply
  4. Wow! 3 pitches to agents? That’s awesome! …and overwhelming. Just remember that they’re people too. The conversational aspect helps because then you think of them more like equals. Agents aren’t gods–they’re supposed to be your partner, right? :)

    I’ll email you about the pitches so I can do color-coding. :) But they look great! Fantastic job!

    Reply
  5. Cristin Harber

     /  February 29, 2012

    I agree with you about A for the elevator pitch and B for the standard pitch.

    In pitch A, I think you really have something with “when” her true home lies. It is special and intriguing but make sure to emphasize it so it isn’t lost in the pitch.

    You will have enough time if you don’t get sidetracked on details. I haven’t pitched a lot, but found some success when I did. I memorized my pitch but then worked hard to make it sound like I was having a conversation. You know the story and characters, so even if you go off script, you’ll know what to say in the back of your head. Relax and take a few deep breaths. They want to hear about your story as much as you want to tell them.

    Reply
  6. Don’t forget to introduce yourself. :)

    Reply
  7. Both pitches are good. Start out with A for sure, then see if they have any questions based on that before you launch into the longer description with B. I just attended a writer’s conference this past weekend w/ 5 editors and 2 agents and on the panel when someone asked them for tips on pitching, they all said just to start a conversation. They do these things ALL day long and it’s very tiring to listen to. I took their advice, and just didn’t even bring my index cards. I was so much more relaxed than when I did it last year, where I was sweating profusely and breaking out into red blotches! Eep was right;) And they seemed much more interested this year. Will keep my fingers crossed for you:)

    Reply
  8. I can’t give pitch advice, but I can give you a bit of information which may convince them regardless. Congratulations on finaling in the Paranormal Category of the 2012 Marlene Awards. The official announcement from the Paranormal Category coordinator, Nicky Penttila should be in your inbox as I type this. Three cheers!

    Reply
    • Thank you! I’m so excited! My first contest finaling, and I saw her email right before the conference started and my first pitch, so it really gave me a huge confidence burst.

      Reply
  9. Both pitches are good. Knock ‘em dead, Angela. We’re all cheering for you.

    Reply
  1. Pitching at a Conference? Set Fire to the Rain! « Angela Quarles

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