Perfecting the Pitch – Part 1 – Short, Hot, and Memorized

322px-Greenwich_clockWhy am I doing this?

“AgentFest is designed to put authors and agents together for the purpose of pitching projects. This will be an unprecedented opportunity for those writers looking to get or change agents. And where better to have this event than in the heart of publishing, New York City?

AgentFest is set up like a speed-dating event. You pitch your novel to an agent for a few minutes, get the agent’s reaction, and then move on to a different agent.” (Thrillerfest site)

The Ticking Clock:

The clock is ticking and with every tick I become more distracted. “Concentrate, ” I yell at myself. But it doesn’t work.

The problem is that when I get close to a deadline I procrastinate. Don’t ask me why. It seems to be part of my creative process. Like I need to tempt myself away from success. Sheesh! I don’t understand it, but I know I have to work with it. So here I am facing the clock.

I’m really busy in the beginning of July so I have only two days left to perfect my pitch for my book (or books) for Thrilerfest in  New York.

An Illusion or an Opportunity?

I know I’m battling against horrendous odds, trying to get my work published. Still I  see Agentfest as an opportunity for me, not an illusion.

How can I do this?

There are tons of books and information on-line about how to create the perfect pitch. Where to start is the question. I decided to go with the article provided on the Thrillerfest site as that’s where I’m heading. It’s called, “Pitching in Person.”

I downloaded the 5 page article. “OMG,” I said to my computer screen, “I’ll never get through this in two days.” And so my pitching adventure begins.

3 Pieces of Advice that Stick

The tone of the article is calming. Consider their advice:

  1. “Of course you’re nervous. You’ve waited months for this, your stomach is flip-flopping to one degree or another and you feel like your personal worth is on the line. So the first piece of advice is this: Rejection isn’t personal. When an agent says no, he’s saying that your work is not right for him. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not an appraisal of your writing because…the agent hasn’t actually read any of your writing.”

  2. “For those of you who are not New Yorkers, here’s a clue. NYers might seem to be a little abrupt at times. Get over it.”

  3. “Sell your story + Sell your character + Sell yourself – Successful Pitch!”

Step 1 – Sell Your Story

“Short, Hot, Memorized.”

Yeah right! Much easier said than done. “…include a beginning, middle, and an end (or a strong hint of an end) in 45 words or less. Typical speaking time is about 15 seconds, if you have it memorized And you will need to memorize your pitch. ” OMG OMG OMG – I need a coffee. Then I’ll time the blurb I’ve made. Wish me luck.

Okay, I’ve got my title, genre, tag line and blurb down to 47 seconds. Too too long. And… it sounds weak, probably because I’ve reworked these words forever and because I hate what they leave out: the love triangle that flows into the second book, the interesting back characters, beautiful setting, high seas boat chase, and kidnapped child. Back to the laptop.

Did it – 19 seconds, including my name. Pitch =42 words. Phew.

My name is Jo-Ann Carson. I’m pitching a romantic thriller set in the Pacific Northwest called, Black Cat Blues.

When a big-hearted blues singer finds a man dying in an alley, she learns a secret about a century old treasure buried by the notorious cult leader and master of black magic, Brother XII. Then the murderer stalks her for the secret. (40 words, 20 seconds)

I’ve pitched twice before (2012 RWA Nationals in Anaheim). Third time lucky? I figure it’s like batting practice. Sooner or later I should learn enough to connect and hit the ball out of the park.

Okay I’m going to go bake cookies for my grandkids and run through my lines.

Tomorrow I’ll work on Step 2 – Selling my Character.

Any pitching advice is most welcome.

SuSong Clock, 11th century
SuSong Clock, 11th century
3 story water clock

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

12 thoughts on “Perfecting the Pitch – Part 1 – Short, Hot, and Memorized”

  1. It’s great to be prepared, that’s for sure. I’ll add a couple of tips for your consideration.

    1) MAJOR EYE CONTACT -I’m Jo-Ann Carson

    2)Launch into the pitch. (they know it’s a pitch -don’t use up your words by saying so.)

    3)I would actually use the name of your characters in the pitch. You can say “I’ve written a Romantic Thriller called Black Cat Blues. Or “Black Cat Blues ” -my Romantic Thriller set in …. My heroine etc.

    Just a couple of small things.

    You’ll be fine. Breathe -and don’t speak too quickly.


    1. Hi Jodie
      Great advice. Especially the breathing part.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.


  2. Sorry to be late getting here, Jo-Ann. I had computer/email issues. Opened this earlier and the phone rang it was the tech gal trying to fix things. You’ve gotten some good advice. Especially the eye contact. My thoughts. After “Hi my name is” (I always shake hands. I’m checking them out too–except one time when flu was rampant!) Black Cat blues is blah, blah, maybe include the word count.
    You’re really just pitching this book and not the series. I’m thinking you can throw in that it’s the first of a series, but I’ve never been to thrillerfest, so not sure how they do.
    I like Jude’s comment about Kat (Your heroine?) doing something. So yes, I think you can put in her name.
    When do you actually go and when do you pitch? We all can be sending you good positive vibes! You’re going to knock’em dead. (Appropriate for a suspense! LOL)


    1. Hi Pat
      I know I’m going to forget my name when I enter the room, so I thought I’d better prepare. You seem quite comfortable talking about your stories. I wouldn’t worry too much. Not long now.


  3. Good luck with your pitching, Jo-Ann! You’ve done a ton of work and you’re getting great advice. That (combined with your talented writing) should make you shine above the crowd. Just remember… make sure you take the time to just enjoy yourself at Thrillerfest 🙂


    1. Jacqui
      Aaah, thank you. You gave me a good “reminder”. I’m planning on having lots of fun.
      I’m already half-packed. How about you, my double nominated Golden Heart friend? You must be getting pretty excited about the Nationals. We’ll have so many stories, when next we meet.
      Thanks so much for all your support. You rock.


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