I had an opportunity the other day, along with a few other writing friends, to tour a publishing house, meet some editors, and perhaps pitch a story while I was there. It was an interesting opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see how books are created. However, the “pitch” part made me nervous in the days leading up to it.
I realized why I was so nervous the day before. It was much like preparing for a job interview. The preparation steps are nearly identical. Here are some similarities I found:
Know the Interviewer – Or in this case, know the person to whom you are pitching. I assumed I would pitch to an editor for their romance line. I already had some general knowledge of the publisher, but also looked at their website and at each editor’s profile for more details. When I interviewed with companies or potential clients for my day job, I used similar sources to gain background material.
Know Yourself – When I was on job interviews in the past, this meant I should be ready to talk about my past experience, provide specific examples, and demonstrate why I was a good fit for the company. When pitching, this means I should be ready to talk about my writing qualifications, succinctly describe my story, and show why it is a good fit for the editor or agent.
Questions to Answer – There are always questions one should be prepared to answer. An interviewer might ask “What is your greatest weakness?” while an editor might ask “What is the hero’s internal conflict?” Or they might ask other core questions, designed to verify how well I understand my own story. Whether interviewing or pitching, having good answers to expected questions is key.
Questions to Ask – One of the common interviewing mistakes people make is not preparing a few questions to ask the interviewer. I think the same holds true for pitching. In both types of events, the person on the other side of the table wants to know you are informed and interested. They want you to prove you understand this is a chance for both of you to learn more about the other person.
Dress Appropriately – Most people automatically dress a little nicer for a job interview. In my opinion, the same holds true for pitching. I want the other person to see that I view my writing as a business and I am taking this seriously.
So, did recognizing the similarities help? Well, I was still nervous. And afterward, I remembered one more common rule: Don’t be overtired when you go to either a job interview or a pitch session. It doesn’t help! But the tour was fascinating, the people we met were very gracious, and I got a request out of it. All-in-all, it was the most fun I ever had on an interview.
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.