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PITCHING YOUR BOOK: THE ROLE OF LITERARY AGENTS

I have readers asking me about agents from time to time. As there are very few literary agents in Asia, most writers are interested in how North American and British agents go about selling a book. There is a website called Agent Query which is an excellent source for any writer wanting an inside look on how the process works. A number of agents were asked to explain how they “pitch” a book to an editor. I had been under the impression that the short pitch was something associated with getting a film deal. Obviously a similar approach is at work in the literary world as well.

Jenny Bent, Trident Media Group has this to say about her approach to a new project.

“…you develop a short pitch for the project. You compare it to other projects that have been successful in the past—this works particularly well if you’ve actually been the agent for said projects. You come up with a really compelling reason or fun catch-phrase that is going to make the editor move this project to the top of the pile when he/she gets it in. At this point, you’ve already written your query letter, so you may very well crib something from that when pitching to editors. You either call or e-mail the editors on your list and give them the pitch. 9.9 times out of ten they want to see it.

”So you send it. If you’re lucky, there is tremendous enthusiasm and you can set up an auction or have an impromptu auction. This is when you go in rounds, publisher by publisher, to get increasingly larger offers (see my website www.jennybent.com for a more complete explanation). Or maybe just one or two publishers want to buy. Either way, it can be a tricky situation, and I just realized that this wasn’t part of the question anyway!”

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