I've recently been running the One-to-One pitching sessions at the Get Writing Conference with the VWC (Verulam Writing Circle) and the University of Hertfordshire. This event was attended by over 140 people all keen to develop their writing skills. There were workshops, lectures and pitching sessions to cater for writers of all levels.
Some of the top publishers, agents and editors were in attendance all willing to share their knowledge, both inspirational and factual. It was obvious to everyone in attendance that writing isn't an easy road. There are many pitfalls and hurdles to jump before you even get your work in front of an editor. This conference gave a true reflection on the publishing market today - its ups and downs.
Speaking to those attending, it was obvious that everyone came away inspired, and keen to get home and continue writing.
For my part, I had many people asking what they should expect when pitching. Now the easiest thing to say here is: nothing - that way you won't be dissappointed, but that would be unfair.
If you are going to pitch to an agent, editor or publisher, you have to be prepared. Don't go in with a scrap of paper and prattle on. Make sure you have either: supplied your synopsis and sample chapters in advance - this enables the agent etc. to read, understand and prepare comments on your work. Listen intently, ask questions, be prepared to answer their questions - know your book inside out.
If you are pitching from a standing start: Make sure you have a short, sharp synopsis, a couple of chapters ready should the agent etc. ask for it. They may not have much time to go into detail about your manuscript or idea, but if they think the synopsis has promise they will tell you it does. If they have seen many things similar, listen, they are trying to help you. Don't ever force your work on an agent etc. because it will end up in the bin - unread.
Above all be professional - if you are, they will treat you like a professional.
Do your homework. Make sure you are pitching your work to the right person. It is a waste of your time and theirs if you try pitching a children's novel to a romantic novelist agent.
One last thing. Arrive at the checking in desk on time, not before the time stated in your information pack, otherwise you will be sent away. It causes problems if people try to get in early, so they don't miss their slot, this may make others late as you are queuing too early. And yes, queuing is important. When you enter the pitching room stay focused. Give the name of the person you have an appointment with and then your name. This way the team organising can move you effectively through the process giving you the maximum opportunity to shine.
If you follow these instructions, you should find the pitching session very productive. Remember, your work might not be of interest to the person you are seeing, but that is only one person so keep trying. Writing is a hard task master; it takes talent, determination and a great deal of luck.
Above all be passionate about your work, that way you might just find others are too.