From Pen to Published

From Pen to Published
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

If you are one of those people who associates a ‘pitch’ with baseball, you would be right if you were standing on a diamond-shaped grass field. However, pitch takes on an entirely different context and meaning for writers and authors.

In the world of pens, words, and ink, a pitch is the first step leading to publication. It is an opportunity to sit down with a publisher, editor, or agent and talk about you and your project.

True Lit: Fayetteville’s Literary Festival, scheduled from Oct. 1 – 8, will bring a variety of literary events to Northwest Arkansas. During the festival, Fayetteville Public Library offers the local writing community something new – a cross-section of book publishers and magazine editors looking for writers.

The day begins with two panel discussions—one for magazines, another for books—with panelists explaining their specific press needs. Following the presentation, these professionals will take individual, 10-minute appointments. They will sit down with individual writers and listen to pitches and discuss writing projects.

To maximize your time and the editor’s, read through information on the publisher or magazine. Choose the one best suited to your needs and current project. The True Lit website ( and FPL brochure are good places to begin as you prioritize your choices and choose the time and editor best suited to your needs. It is recommended that you practice your pitch with a writer friend or before a mirror.

Remember, you only have ten minutes to discuss your project, so be prepared. Also, notice that it is project, not projects. When pitching, talk about only one project at a time, keep it concise, and stick to the point.

For fiction, begin your pitch with title, genre, word count, and a two-to-four sentence description of your work. Remember that conflict is a critical element in fiction, so identify the main catalyst that starts your story, and include a sketch of your protagonist and antagonist. The catalyst, or ‘hook,’ engages the reader immediately and is most often the thing about your work that makes it stand out.

For non-fiction – whether it is a book or an article – talk about the project. Explain why you are qualified to write on the subject, and identify your target audience. For a magazine piece, you’ll need to describe your article, intended audience, and number of words.

If there is still ‘pitch’ time, you can spend a few minutes talking about your previous publications and your marketing platform or plans. You can discuss or pitch your work to any number of editors or book publishers.

Sign-up for pitches is first come, first served the day of the event. Sessions are 10-minute, one-on-one appointments. Be concise with your pitch – there is no need to bring manuscripts, pages, articles, or book.

During the appointment, jot down notes of anything that the editor/publisher requests and follow up with exactly what they request – no more. When following up, mention the name of the conference where you met.

After the appointment, be gracious. Thank the editor for listening and considering your work. Follow up with anything requested.

Good luck with your pitch. Here’s hoping you connect for a home run.

Categories: Commentary