If you took the time to read the seven articles leading up to this workshop—thank you! I have been so passionate about writing and the publishing industry for such a long time, and being able to share my knowledge is an absolute honor. If you enjoyed my little crash course, be sure to keep your eyes open for my non-fiction book, Show Don't Tell is NOT the Golden Rule when it releases. Thanks again!
The last part of this eight-part blog is a workshop plan. If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you will recognize this workshop! In tenth grade, my Advanced Writing teacher gave us this workshop as our semester final, and it prepared me so well for actually being able to pitch to agents and editors later in my life. I hope it will do the same for you!
PITCHING TO LITERARY AGENTS & EDITORS
The goal of this workshop is to give writers firsthand experience pitching their novels to literary agents and editors. Writers will also be given constructive feedback on their performance as well as the material they present.
For this workshop, you will need volunteers to act as agents and editors. (Minimum three.) The workshop should be a minimum of one hour. (Length will depend on the amount of writers attending and amount of volunteers.) Tables should be set up so that writers can sit across from our volunteers to give the mock pitch. Extra chairs should be seated in a line behind the tables for the writers who are “in line” to give their pitch.
Name cards for volunteer “agents and editors” will be needed along with a paper showing the list of writers who have signed up for each “agent.” Another volunteer will be needed to keep time.
For writers: After signing up for the workshop, writers should take their own time to draft a query letter and one-page synopsis. They should also have a business card and be prepared to give a one-to-two sentence elevator pitch.
This workshop will have multiple parts, as outlined below.
You will find three to four volunteers who would like to pose as literary agents or editors. Each volunteer will write a short bio outlining what publisher they “work for” and what kind of writing they want to acquire.
A newsletter will be sent out advertising the workshop. The newsletter can have a short explanation of what the required materials are for pitch sessions, as well as how to make your material as best it can be. Links can be provided for articles such as “How to write a query letter,” “How to write a one-page synopsis,” and “What makes a business card stand out?”
NOTE: Signing up for pitches can be done one of the two ways below.
Writers will register for the workshop. When they register, they will be shown the bio for the volunteers who are acting as agents and editors. At the time of registration, they will sign up for which agent they would like to pitch to. The first to register and sign up will be first on that agent’s list. The second to register will be second, etc.
This can be done by having a box for “additional comments” in the registration form (where they can specify which agent to pitch to), or as an email that is sent to the writers after their registration. If the latter, writers should be made aware in the initial newsletter that a secondary email will be sent out after registration. They should also be told that if they do not receive this second email within an allotted amount of time, they should reach back out to communicate that they have not received the email.
Writers who register for the workshop will need to arrive early to sign up for the agent or editor they would like to pitch to. We will have papers listing the agents’ names, where writers will be able to write their names in a list below. Writers should have a second choice in case their first choice of agent is already filled.
Writers will find the table assigned to the literary agent or editor they signed up to pitch to. Once they find the table, they will find a list showing the order the agent will be taking the pitch. Writers should sit in the order shown on the list.
Each pitch session will take fifteen minutes. A volunteer will need to keep time and announce each change as needed.
For five minutes, the “agents” will review the writer’s query letter and synopsis. At the end of the five minutes, the volunteer will announce that writers can go to the “agents.”
For the remaining ten minutes, the writers will sit in front of the “agents” and give their elevator pitches and business cards. “Agents” will have an opportunity to ask questions about the material, as well as give the writers feedback on their material. Writers should be ready to answer questions related to their novels.
Cookies and wine will be served. The group will discuss what they have learned from the experience. Writers will be encouraged to share where they could improve and where they thought they did well. Any questions relating to the process of in-person pitching to literary agents and editors can be discussed as a group at this time.
Traditional Publishing Blogs
PART 8: Interactive Workshop Guide