Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OMG. I have to talk to an agent. What do I do? What do I say?

In our continuing theme of "here's another way to look at things," I offer you my perspective on the all important pitch appointment.

We are writers. We love our stories. If we didn't, we couldn't have spent all that time pounding out 300+ pages and then revising until our eyes bled (your eyes didn't bleed? Go back and edit some more). Usually agents and editors are not writers. They don't think like us. I think that is the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with the publishing world. We think differently than most people. That's why we're writers.

An editor's job is to think like a reader. Their job is to sell books to readers. By extension, an agent needs to think like an editor, since their job is to sell books to editors. If we want to get an agent, we have to think like one.

This does not mean writing to the market. Evil trolls who will steal your soul lie down that road. What this does mean is when we are pitching (selling) our masterpieces to them, we have to think like them. We are also readers, so let's put on our reading hats. Mine comes with a book light.

You just read the most amazing book and you want to get your best friend to read it. It's 2 AM, so you have to wait until a decent hour to call her (mine wouldn't, but you are nice). You try to go to sleep, but you keep playing the book in your head, thinking of ways you could make everything work out (the sign of a great book). The alarm clock goes off and you can finally talk to your BFF.

What do you tell her?

That's it. That's your pitch. What do you tell your best friend about this amazing, incredible book to get her to read it? Do you pick up the back of the book and read her the blurb? No. You tell her what you love about that book. What kept you up until 2 AM reading?

The blurb works great for the more formal setting of a query letter where you don't have the opportunity to answer questions. When you are at an agent appointment or talking to an agent in the bar, think talking to your best friend. Don't think like a writer pitching a book. Think like an excited reader trying to get someone to read the book.

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