When is it the right time to pitch your book?

Some of the most common questions writers ask us have to do with pitching. It only makes sense. Pitching a book is a significant step both in the life of your book, and a big one in your writing career, too. With that in mind—and seats for the upcoming Writer’s Digest Annual Conference Pitch Slam selling fast—here are some quick tips (with a few suggestions at the end for further reading):

Non-Fiction Author?

  • Breathe easy, a completed manuscript isn’t necessary. Since a conversation with an agent could reshape your approach to your work, you don’t want to have a completed book. Things will change.

Fiction Writer?

  • Come prepared with your manuscript completed. Sure, a prospective agent may only want to see the first 100 pages, but if they want to read on, you need to be ready.

Writing a Memoir?

  • See above—the same rules for fiction apply here.

Once you feel like you have a good grasp on the steps above, it’s time to practice your pitch. Since you’ll have approximately 90 seconds, you’ll want to time yourself, too. Don’t be afraid to record yourself and listen to not only what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. You want to be genuine and confident. Also, it’s not a bad idea to get a trusted friend or family member who may not know many of the details of your book to listen to your pitch and ask questions. They might surprise you with questions that hadn’t occurred to you. Better to be surprised then instead of at the Slam.

We’re expecting more than 60 agents and editors this year, so in order to maximize your time, you’ll want to study up ahead of time, to see who is looking for work in the genre you write. It’s not a bad idea to have a strategy for who you want to see and when (and have backups!). If someone you want to see has a long line, who could you sub in quickly?

Finally, after telling you all of the above, remember that there are no hard and fast rules! This is your time. If you’re not ready to pitch, you can come with questions! Maybe find out if your idea is compelling enough to attract an audience, or maybe ask about a difficult plot point. However you choose to use the time, maximize it!


Finally, here are a few nifty tools to help: