When you hone you subject into a great pitch, you know what you’re book is about—and you can communicate that in a query letter or aloud. Pitchcraft™ is an invaluable tool—not just for landing an agent but for selling books. In this guest post, agent Katharine Sands, who coined the term, answers an important question for aspiring and published authors: What’s the difference between a written and verbal pitch? NA
To e-query, or not to e-query, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The zings and arrows of agent feedback
Or to take pains and angst a sea of e-mails
And by proposing, send them?
This question, pondered by William Shakespeare—unless, you’ve seen the movie, Anonymous, and now wonder about that fact, may be paraphrased (with apologies to the Bard, and his fan base), but surely writers have always had plenty to muse about when it comes to creativity versus commerce. And today, writers have similar concerns, with both age-old and brand-new questions about how to best tilt at these windmills (as Cervantes might have put it). Writers ask how to catch literary agents’ eyes—but also their ears. If your own wish is to sign with a literary agent, this raises binders full of query questions. (No apology to president-reject Romney).
At the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, a glorious weekend of workshops that takes place in February and takes over the Mark Hopkins Hotel, literary agents and industry professionals summit to give talks on a variety of publishing topics, I first met Nina Amir. During a pitch contest headed by Mike Larsen questions came up about pitching for the conference’s popular speed dating day and for the page. Are on-page elements and in-person aspects of the pitch different, or not? A kiss is still a kiss (in the Casablanca theme song, As Time Goes By); but, is a pitch still a pitch?
So what is the difference between the in-person or elevator pitch and the query letter for the nonfiction writer? The pitch, now synonymous with query, was once the province of Hollywood, often comic when depicted by huckster-y ad guys (think Mad Men). It has morphed into the umbrella term meaning proposing and introducing your concept for a book; now it is used universally for the most lofty and serious projects along with the most commercial. Why? Because your pitch must succeed to get you read, and represented, long before you can get a deal, movie, a product line, and a corner table at Spago. (To read the rest of this blog post, please click here.)
This post is part of National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo) and Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN). To learn more about these events, visit www.writenonfictioninnovember.com, this blog’s sister blog.
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