It's time to introduce your exciting story concept to the world. After all this work, there's one more thing to do: you must come up with a dazzlingly witty and irresistible sentence or two to grab that agent or editor and let them know you have got A WINNER on your hands!
Think of how you'd describe what you've been working on to your best friend, then polish it till it shines. You should be able to encapsulate the characters, conflict, and at least hint at the resolution in the time it would take an elevator to travel a couple of floors. That's because, the next time you find yourself at a conference, that might be just the opportunity you're given.
You to famous editor: "I enjoyed your keynote. And I agree that exciting days are ahead for the picture book market."
Famous editor: Thank you. Are you a picture book author or illustrator?
You: "Why, yes, I am."
FE: "What are you working on?"
This is where you keep your wits about you (don't hyperventilate!) and produce the above-mentioned dazzling sentence. (Good manners require you to wait until asked. You do NOT, under any circumstances, ambush an agent or editor at a conference with your sparkly pitch uninvited--you will be labeled unprofessional at best, creepy and stalkerish at worst.)
Or perhaps you're interested in submitting to a house which accepts queries only. Your pitch is the nucleus of your query. In essence, you're providing the editor or agent with your marketing hook. You know the text on the jacket flap, or the back cover of a paperback that makes you want to buy the book? That's basically a pitch to the consumer; you want to be just as engaging with your pitch to the publisher or agency.
Here is an article about pitching in general--not specifically for children's books, but the rules apply. Of particular interest are the six tips at the end. Note the refinement of the term "elevator pitch": http://publishingperspectives.com/2010/11/pitchapalooza-2010-tips-for-perfecting-your-book-pitch/
Shhh . . . #PBdummy secret!
So, those of you following along for the past six months may recall that when we started this challenge, we said the finished dummy would be its own reward. This is still true. If you've completed a picture book dummy to submit, congratulations! Quite an accomplishment, huh? Seriously--dummies are hard work.
We hope everyone has gotten something out of the challenge, and we expect to hear of exciting submission news from some of you! But we thought maybe you intrepid dummiers (I'm sure that's not a real word) deserved a reward for sticking with it.
Accordingly, Wendy has secured a special surprise for #kidlitart chat folks, or those following the blog: Starting tomorrow (June 23) and continuing through Saturday, June 25, we're asking you to post a pitch for your dummy project. An agent Wendy contacted has expressed interest in what we've been doing with the challenge, and has agreed to review the pitches, pick her three favorites, and offer a detailed critique of each of the three winning dummies!
Exciting, yes? Feedback like this from an agent who regularly deals with picture book manuscripts and art is invaluable. I am personally extremely bummed that I did not complete the challenge, and have no dummy to throw in the ring. :-(
The rest of you, polish those pitches!
Share your perfect pitch in the comments section of tomorrow's post for your chance at one of three professional critiques.
And join us Thursday, June 23, at 9 pm Eastern, to further discuss tips for showcasing your work in 20 words or less.