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 (no fainting allowed!) 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/
Did you sign up for the challenge last January?
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.
I have secured another fabulous agent to review pitches of your finished dummies. If you signed up for the challenge in January, you can share your pitch on the blog. Starting Friday June 29 and continuing through Saturday, July 7, we're asking you to post a pitch for your dummy project. Last year the Secret agent chose her three favorites to critique. The agent I contacted this year didn't want to put a limit on the number she picked in case she liked more than three. So who knows how many pitches might be chosen. Remember, the only stipulation is that you signed on to do the challenge in January and you have a completed dummy to send the the Secret Agent if she chooses your pitch.
Exciting, yes? Feedback like this from an agent who regularly deals with picture book manuscripts and art is invaluable. I wish I could throw my hat in the ring, but I didn't work on a new dummy this time around.
The rest of you, polish those pitches!
Share your perfect pitch in the comments section of the June 29th post for your chance at a professional critique.
And join us Thursday, June 28, at 9 pm Eastern, to further discuss tips for showcasing your work in 20 words or less.