I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, September 13, 2010

The 7 P's of Pondering a Pitch

So you’ve got your pitch together – Now what?

If you’ve never pitched before or even if you have – prepare to be petrified! I’m not saying that to discourage you – it’s the truth! You are handing over your baby, finally letting someone take a peek at your work. The thousands of words you have struggled over day and night, the repeated edits, the building of the story world, and the special people you’ve come to love – your characters. You’re laying all your effort out on the line for some editor or agent to either fall madly in love with, or snub their nose at your efforts.

So what do you do? You’ve probably read a kazillion (okay, so I took the liberty of making up a word) of these types of articles, but here is one more. I’m giving you the seven P’s of pitching.

1) Prepare - Check out the MBT Pitch Fest, you will walk away armed and ready to present your work.
2) Practice - Practice your pitch. I write it out on index cards and take it to the appointment. That’s because I’m not good at a practiced speech, and it gives me the confidence I need to give them my pitch. But I have still practiced it so I am not reading directly from the card in front of me.
3) Person - Remember the person opposite you is just that – a person. A business man or woman trying to find a good story that will make their publisher happy with their choices. They don’t have hidden talons waiting to rip you apart if you goof. But you do have to sell them on your story.
4) Pause - Take a deep breath. Spend some time while you wait for your appointment to review your story. You are the only one that knows those handsome heroes and classy heroines, and the evils you have put them through.
5) Promote - When you talk about your characters, act like they are your best friends. Well they have been haven’t they??? You have held their hand during heartbreak, you’ve ripped your new manicure from your nails when they’ve been in danger, and your heart has gone pitter-patter when cupid’s arrow finally hits its mark.
6) Pray - Pray for strength and wisdom.
7) Pitch - Now straighten your shoulders, throw out your chest, lift up your head and give it your best.

I have walked away from pitching, so happy that I had to look down at my feet to make sure they were touching the ground. I have also walked away thinking I wouldn’t give that person my story even if they paid me a million bucks. But remember, that is part of the process. It’s not just selling your story; it’s the beginning of a relationship between you and an editor or agent – so make the best of it.

So here is where the rubber hits the road. ACFW is just around the corner so – Prepare, practice, person, pause, promote, pray and pitch. And remember – I’ll be right there with you trying to do the same!

Jennie Atkins


  1. Where did you get that picture? Does it resemble anyone we know? Wonderful timely practical advice. It's into the water and sink or swim for many of us soon--of course, it will be SWIM! Thanks, Jennie

  2. Delores,
    No the picture is a free photo I got off the BING site and is not of anyone we know - although I think all of us right now are about to chew off our fingernails!!!

  3. That picture is actually me--they just changed the facial features a bit--at the Polish conference in Seattle.

    Great tips, Jennie!

  4. That photo is a good reminder to watch for that as-yet-unknown friend who looks just like her--and to take the time and encourage her before she pitches! One of the reasons I love conferences is because I know I'll connect with friends (waving at the Ponderers!) and make new ones.
    And, yes, I'm practicing my pitch--and I'll be at the MBT chat tonight!

  5. Great post, Jennie! I've got my pitch and premise memorized...and I've practiced a little, but not tons yet. The former reporter in me keeps reminding me that my favorite interviews were my "wing-it, ditch the list of questions and just follow the story" ones. In those interviews, I was totally in the moment...I guess that's just a weird personality trait. But hey, in the end, we have to be ourselves during these pitches, don't we? Like you said, we're not just pitching, we're relationship-building...

    Anyway, what I love about your tips is how practical they are. My favorite: pray. How good it is to know that God's got our back!More than that, He's out in front of us leading the way...And Beth, I love your point about looking out for on-the-verge-of-freaked-out people to encourage. We really can use this conference not only as a means of hopefully promoting our own stories, but as an opportunity for ministry to others!

  6. Beth, Oh, I totally agree that we need to help each other out! Pitching is not easy to do. And yes! Check out the MBT chat tonight for more tips on pitching!

  7. Melissa, You have to be you. I can't wing it - I tend to get very tongue-tied, so its better that I have the cards in front of me. But, God has given you the gift of spontinaity, so you go girl!!!

  8. Great post, Jennie. I particularly like #6. Using the prayer room at the conference really settles my nerves. Last year Susie prayed over me before my appointment. I felt that divine anointing and went in knowing I was pitching with his blessing. Can't get much better than that. :)

  9. Impressive list of P's. :-) Good job, Jennie. Here's another one - Peeps. If you're going to pitch at the dinner table, see if a friend who believes in your writing will sit with you. You can take turns talking up each other's stories to the editor/agent. Discovered this last year when a couple friends stepped in when my mind went blank. They picked up my pitch and covered for me until (part of) my brain decided to return to me. :-)

  10. Jennie, I appreciate your post! Though I am not attending this year, it gives me insight into what to be ready for (and how to be ready) when I DO get to go. I am continuing to pray for all you Ponderers (and friends) who are going. :) May the Lord fill your mouths with His words and give you His peace and confidence!

  11. Thanks for praying for us, Jeanne! That is the most important aspect of all this--prayer support!

  12. Jenness - thank you for P number eight! I never thought of having a friend with you because most of my author friends are pitching too. But, I will keep it in mind!

  13. Jeanne, Thank you for your prayers! All the Ponderers appreciate it!

  14. Oh Jennie, yes! All sooooo true. I love how you broke it down so plainly. Great job.

    BTW Thanks for the prayer Jeanne!

  15. Jennie, awesome post. You are amazing...I hope to be one of the friends you see and can practice with!

  16. Great Job Jennie!
    I'm not pitching yet, but I sure am going to remember all of the good advice.