Pitching Your Story

By Megan Burkhart, a professional writing student at Taylor University

Pitching your story to an agent or publisher should not be like pitching a baseball. The goal is not to throw out your idea as fast as you can, hoping your audience will miraculously slam a home run out of it.

A home run is the ultimate goal, but there is an art to delivering a pitch. There is a form to be followed, and here are some tips from my experience of pitching to both my peers and an agent.

1. Perfect Your Hook

Do you have a catchy one-liner for your story? Something like, “May the odds be ever in your favor” from The Hunger Games? It should be just enough to intrigue your audience to want to know more. Remember, you don’t have a lot of time when pitching your story, so you want to make it as exciting and unforgettable as possible.

2. Keep the Overview Short and Simple

After the hook, you should launch into a brief overview of the plot. You should hit on the main things such as who’s the protagonist, what’s the setting, what’s the conflict, and who’s the antagonist. It’s best not to introduce subplots or minor characters in your pitch. Those things are important, but you simply don’t have the time to explain every little detail.

3. Be Prepared For Follow-Up Questions

When I first pitched my novel to an agent, she asked me a lot of questions. She wanted to know more about my main characters, my setting, and what my favorite part of the story to write was. Be prepared for anything, but also don’t stress about it. Ultimately, you are the author, and you know your story better than anyone.

4. Spoil the Ending

Toward the end of my time with the agent, she asked me how my story ended. One of my peers had mentioned this to me several months before this meeting, but it still caught me a little off guard. It may seem odd to spoil the ending, but an agent just wants to know what she’s signing up for. She wants to know where it’s going, so she can decide if it’s the right fit. Revealing the ending can also point to a series potential, which is important for agents looking for new clients.

Though pitching can make you feel like you’re out of your league, it is a valuable skill to practice. The more comfortable you get, the more your confidence will shine through in your one-on-one with an agent. Refine your hook and overview. Know your story, and be prepared for questions, even those pertaining to your ending.

Your pitch will nail a home run. It just takes a few swings to get there.

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