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How to Pitch Your Book: 4 Tips


As the League of Utah Writers gets closer and closer to its annual Quills Conference, it’s worth pointing out that one of the great advantages of the gathering is that agents and editors will be there to take pitches from the attending writers. For those who don’t know, pitching is where you get ten minutes with an agent or editor and you get to tell them about your manuscript and why it might be right for them. Pitching is a bit of an art form, but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door if you want to sell a manuscript to the publishing industry. It’s a necessary evil to make it, but I want to offer you a few tips about pitching that will help you get through it.


1. Be Concise

Yes, you’ve got ten minutes, but you want to leave most of that time for questions. Give them the most concise version of your story possible, include the genre, the title, and the word count, and then talk to them. Sometimes, these pitch sessions are as much about them auditioning you as much as your manuscript.

2. Bring Your Passion

What makes you excited about the project? Make sure you include that in your initial pitch. If you don’t talk about why your book makes you excited, how are you going to be able to pass that enthusiasm on to your readers? Is there a particular thing that drove you to write the book? Can you talk about it passionately? Then make sure to bring that enthusiasm and passion to your pitch.


3. Don’t Sweat Your Anxiety

Agents and editors know that they make you nervous. They may well hold the future of your career in their hands, and they’re aware of how that might make you anxious. But that’s not what they’re there to judge you on. They want to know about your story, so understand that they’ll be understanding and just get to the book. That’s what they want to hear about. They’ll be forgiving, I promise. (And if they’re not, maybe they aren’t the sort of agent or editor who would be right for you anyway.)


4. Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Since you’ll have made your pitch so precise and quick, that leaves you and the person you’re pitching with lots of time to chat. And this might be the most important part of the pitch session. They’ll ask you further details about things that intrigued them during your pitch. They’ll ask for clarifications of specific story points. They’ll ask about you personally and why you’re the best person to tell this particular story. Have answers ready. They want to make sure you know your novel. You’d be surprised by how many novelists don’t actually know their story.


These are just a few tips and tricks to make sure that your chance to get published via pitch is going to be successful. If you want to learn more, Chantelle Aimée Osman, acquiring editor at Agora Books, will be visiting the League for our digital Speaker Series in May to teach about pitching and querying. You’ll want to be ready for conference pitching, and this class is a great next step.

For those of you who aren’t sure about pitching to agents and editors and would rather self-publish, a lot of these skills are going to be good for you to learn anyway. As someone working in self-publishing, you’ll still need to be able to communicate your stories concisely, whether on a panel at a conference or talking to potential readers. It all applies to writers of all goals and stripes.

For more information about pitching, feel free to contact me to ask questions and don’t miss our Speaker Series on the topic.


To get tickets to Quills and purchase pitches, visit our Quills website.


Bryan Young


Bryan Young works across many different media. He worked as a writer and producer of documentary films, which were called "filmmaking gold" by The New York Times. He's also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. He's been a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, StarWars.com, Star Wars Insider magazine, SYFY, /Film, and more. He co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG in 2019 and in 2020 he wrote a novel in the BattleTech Universe called Honor's Gauntlet. Follow him on Twitter @swankmotron or visit www.swankmotron.com.

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