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Tips for Pitching Fiction to an Agent or Publisher

So you want to pitch your fiction work? Here are some general guidelines:

  1. First sentence: name of novel, genre, word count, any awards it’s won, and who else writes like this.

    1. (Danaera is an 84000 word YA fantasy along the lines of Garth Nix. It was a finalist in…)

  1. Second sentence: log line

    1. In 25 words or less, say…

      1. Protagonist, conflict, consequences of failure

    2. (Danaera is a misfit princess who must save her family and kingdom when stone wights attack.)

  1. Go on to describe the main plot – no subplot. Like a query, keep it simple.

    1. bring out what is unique

    2. what hero wants

    3. how he gets it

  2. All this should only take 5 minutes or so.

  3. Also prepare a few questions for the person you are pitching to.

Note: It doesn’t hurt to bring maybe 20 manuscript pages to the pitch, though there is a good chance the editor or agent won’t want physical pages. More likely is that the person you are pitching to may request an email with more information such as sample pages. If you are invited to do this, be sure you mention that you met that person at our conference!

Expectations: Just because an editor or agent requests pages from you doesn’t mean you are on the road to publication with that person. It is a sign, however, that the agent or editor sees some worth in your project. There is a fair chance that you might send sample pages after the conference and never hear back from the person you pitched to. However, pitching is worthwhile no matter the outcome. Editors and agents know the pointed questions to ask you that will help you see the flaws in your manuscript and fix them. They also know the markets, so ask them questions!

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