Rules for Pitching at SavvyAuthors
RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SIGN
It is YOUR responsibility to properly research and vet every agent/editor before you sign a contract. Don’t leave this step to anyone else.
- READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS
The most important thing we urge everyone to do is always read and follow the instructions. This is your first impression, and you want it to be a good one. Below are a couple things to watch for.
- Type of Pitch: Sometimes it seems every Agent/Editor wants to see something different. Some want three lines, others three paragraphs, others just your 1 sentence logline and the first paragraph of your book, or maybe the first page (which equals appx. 250 words). Be prepared to give them what they ask for.
- What they Acquire: Pay close attention to what they are looking for. Example: don’t pitch an Erotic Romance to an Agent/Editor who acquires Inspirational Romance or Young Adult. That’s an inconsiderate waste of their time, and pitches that do not meet the Agent/Editor critera are subject to removal by SavvyAuthors.
- AM I READY TO PITCH?
If you can say yes to all of these statements, you are ready to pitch!
- My book is finished. I’ve not only completed a first draft but I’ve also done a pass or few of edits.
- I have researched the Agents/Editors who interest me, and think my story may be a good fit.
- I prepared my pitch, practiced it on friends, and I’m ready!
- POST YOUR PITCH
On to the good stuff. SavvyAuthors asks that all pitches begin with some identifying information. A 1-line or logline pitch should look like this:
Title: Flint’s Mystery at Mystic Lake
Genre: Middle Grade Urban Fantasy
Length: 60,000 words
Author: Riley Darkes
A Native American boy with a secret is summoned by the Elders and learns he must use his magic to retrieve a stolen artifact that protects the tribes – and his new friends – from a dangerous, ancient enemy.
That’s it! No bio, no extra fluff. Throw in a polite thanks or a welcome to Savvy but keep to the purpose of the pitch – hooking an agent or editor with your words, as you describe your story.
- THIS IS A BUSINESS – BE PROFESSIONAL
Writing is often a solitary activity where we sit in our pajamas, drink wine, eat chocolate, etc., and it’s difficult to think about putting your work out there and opening yourself to potential rejection. At the pre-submission stage, no one loves that book baby more than you.
When you receive a rejection, or feedback of any type, DO NOT argue. DO NOT start flame wars or be a troll. DO NOT post rants on social media. There are two paths: ignore it, or say “thank you”… then move on. No one wants to work with a person who bad mouths. The publishing industry isn’t as big as you think and people will notice the negativity.
Understand that when pitching and querying, you WILL get rejections. But also note, you should EXPECT to get rejections, it’s a part of the business. Do you really want to be in a contract with someone who doesn’t love your story? Put on your big girl panties/big boy underwear because it’s going to take hard work to find that special Agent/Editor who loves your book baby and fights for it. SavvyAuthors is here to help!
Q: WHAT’S A 3-LINE PITCH?
A: A 3-line pitch is three sentences, or an expanded logline. Below is a formula to help you.
(Character) desperately wants _______ in order to ___________ but s/he is prevented by _______________until he _____________ to overcome obstacle.
Q: WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW THE GENRE OF MY MANUSCRIPT?
A: You’d better figure it out! Google is a writer’s best friend. For example, if you are writing something “otherworldly”, you should know the difference between Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Time Travel, Science Fiction, etc. and be able to fit your story in a genre.
Disclaimer: While not every story fits in a nice, tidy genre, you’ll find it easier to pitch a book if you settle with a genre in the beginning. Down the road, an Agent/Editor may think your Paranormal is really an Urban Fantasy, but being knowledgeable and prepared to have that conversation gives you bonus professional points!
Q: CAN I PITCH TO MORE THAN ONE AGENT/EDITOR?
A: Yes! You can pitch manuscripts to each agent/editor, but NOT if they are from the same company. In that instance, you should pitch to just one.
Q: HOW MANY BOOKS CAN I PITCH?
A: You can pitch two (2) manuscripts to each agency/house.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET A REQUEST?
A: Every Agent/Editor is different. Some give personal feedback directly to pitchers while others provide SavvyAuthors with a list of the manuscripts they want to see, noting how they want to see it. Agents/Editors usually ask for some combination of these:
- Full manuscript – Self explanatory, this is your full mansucript in all its glory.
- Partial manuscript – This is generally the first 3 chapters of your book OR the first 50 pages. Some Editors/Agents will specify, some will not.
- Synopsis – A synopsis is a 1 to 5 page description of your book. Most people hate writing synopses, but we love to read them. Have you ever used Wiki to find out what happens in your favorite book/movie/show? Have you ever read movie reviews or book reviews? These are all different spins on the same thing – a shortened description, aka the synopsis.
- Query – A query is a COVER LETTER. Remember back in the day, interviewers asked for a cover letter with your resume? Think of your query letter like that. Keep it to 1 page, include a personalized intro paragraph, a blurb of your story that makes them want more, a short bio of yourself, and your contact information.
- Business plan or Marketing plan – This is unusual, but don’t be surprised if you see it. When an Agent/Editor is interested in you, it’s generally for the long-haul. They want to know how serious you are, and having a plan shows you’ve thought that far ahead.
SavvyAuthors urges you to read the instructions carefully. Some Agents/Editors will specifically request a Word document or RTF document, or some ask that you paste the words into the body of an email, or that you upload it to a website. Always respect their requests and read carefully. If you can’t follow simple instructions, that’s the first (and possibly last!) strike against you.
Q: I WAS OFFERED A CONTRACT AFTER A SAVVYAUTHORS PITCH! WHAT SHOULD I DO?
A: Research! If you didn’t research the Agency or Publishing Company prior to pitching, you should definitely do that now. SavvyAuthors does a preliminary review, but you may find based on your own research that a company is not the right fit for you.
First, visit the company’s website and really read through to understand their policies. Look at their covers, what they offer, their submission requirements. Is this a company you think you’d want to do business with? If so, then next you should research them on the web. Some places to research:
Finally, if you sign a contract, let SavvyAuthors know! Email [email protected] with your good news and you may be included in the weekly newsletter!