Five Tips to Help You Pass the Pitch Test

Take Charge of Your Author Career

by Greta Boris

I’ll be sitting on the other side of the table in June.

My publisher, Fawkes Press, asked me to represent them at the Southern California Christian Writers Conference. I’ll be listening to writers query their manuscripts.

I’m both excited and nervous. On the one hand, I love to hear about people’s projects, listen to their enthusiasm and help them improve their hook.

On the other hand, I’m going to have to say no to some. I hate disappointing people.

Sometimes the “no” is because the project isn’t a good fit for that particular agent or publisher. Sometimes the “no” is because the story needs more work.

How do you know if your manuscript is ready to pitch?

There’s no easy answer to that question because literature is art, and art is subjective. I love suspense, mystery, and horror that isn’t too horrible. Many don’t. Some story worlds make me want to visit again and again, but the world I want to hang out in might give you hives.

Having said all that, there are things you can do to insure your work is ready to pitch.

5 Tips to Help You Pass the Pitch Test

  1. Research the agent or publisher you are pitching. Don’t set yourself up for failure by sharing your work with someone who isn’t looking for what you write. It’s a waste of your time and theirs.
  2. Turn in clean copy. Know your limitations. If grammar isn’t your thing, hire somebody to fix it, use Grammerly, or find a friend or relative who can help. If your first ten pages are filled with errors, that agent or editor knows the rest of the book isn’t pretty.
  3. Go in with a humble attitude. Nobody, not J.K. Rowling, not James Patterson, not Donna Tart, not your favorite author, publishes a book without the help of an editor. A pitch session is a place to learn. Even if the person you’re pitching doesn’t accept your manuscript, it shows they believe you have promise if they offer suggestions.
  4. Know your genre. I know we’ve all heard it said that genre blending is the new cool thing, but you need to know where your book would be shelved in the bookstore. If you’re not sure, research it. Find other books like yours. How are they described? Know the names of comparison authors.
  5. Make sure your opening hook clearly represents the story you’ve written. This is often difficult for writers, including me. We are so close to our novel, it’s hard to boil it down to the main thing. Get help from other authors, editors, or consider coming to our First Page – Lasting Impression Workshop, or using our First Page Critique Service.

I can’t promise you’ll get picked up by the agent or publisher of your dreams by following the above, but it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be if you don’t. Publishing is a business like any other. Professionalism is paramount.

Have you had experience pitching your manuscript? What did you learn from it? Please share!


Greta Boris, Director

Greta Boris is the author of A Margin of Lust, The Scent of Wrath, and The Sanctity of Sloth, the first three books in her 7 Deadly Sins domestic suspense series. Her nonfiction work includes the Amazon Bestseller The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life and PUBLISH: Take Charge of Your Author Career. She’s also the Director of O.C. Writers, a community of over 1,000 published and aspiring authors in Orange County, California.

2 thoughts on “Five Tips to Help You Pass the Pitch Test

  1. I’d like to add something that might be kind of obvious – don’t pitch your book unless it’s finished, edited and polished up. I missed out on opportunities in the past because my book wasn’t done and I’m a very slow writer.

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