Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Jane Austen Method of Pitching with Guest Blogger: Regina Jeffers

Meet author of all things Regency...Regina Jeffers...today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say about how to pitch your romance novel...

So, you have landed your first pitch session. Now what? To create a pitch for a romance novel, remember to offer a KISS by Keeping It Simple, Stupid. You will have ten-minutes or less to convince an industry savvy agent/editor that your manuscript is exactly for what a publisher searches. Some key points to consider before beginning the process include:

* Do your homework prior to the scheduled pitch. Know something of the publisher or agent. Who else does he represent? How does he view his place in the publishing realm? If it is an agent rather than an established editor, it is a good idea to know the agent’s mailing or web URL, what categories he represents, whether there is a charge for a reading fee, what manuscripts he has placed with publishers, etc.

* Secondly, practice your pitch. This is no time to “wing it.” I am a pantser by nature, but this is not one area in which I would go unprepared. Do you remember Speech 101 back in high school? There was a reason your guidance counselor advised you to take that class. This is that reason. Write out what you wish to say and practice it. Because invariably your nerves will effect what happens in those few short moments, notice that I did not say memorize your pitch. If you memorize the speech, you will leave something out. Practice means to review it over and over. To develop an organization. To make sure your ideas flow.

Within the pitch, one should include the word count, the genre (and subgenre, if necessary), and something of the setting. One might also mention the working title’s significance. Keep in mind, if sold to a publisher, a title change is likely.

In a romance, one must address both the hero and the heroine. Think through what you will say of these characters: adjectives to describe them; their motivations; their goals, and the conflicts the characters face. Be sure to include how the characters must resolve their differences to finally come together, but do not leave out how the antagonist or the circumstances come close to defeating them. Do not ramble on. These points should take no more than 3-5 sentences. Add a sentence or two about your expertise in the area or about your enthusiasm for the story line/manuscript.

The agent/editor may at this point ask you questions about the project. Again, keep your responses to the point. Stay focused on the goal. This is not the time to tell stories of Uncle Horace’s bunions. Respect the agent/editor’s hard earned status in the publishing world by conducting the pitch session in a business like manner. One can offer a friendly attitude without creating a TMI situation.

Finish with a polite “thank you” for the person’s time. Then state the obvious: “With your permission, I would like to send you my manuscript.” Hopefully, the agent/editor will agree. Yet, there is the possibility that he may not. I, personally, prefer to have a second pitch arranged in such cases. If you have not rambled on previously, you will have time for another short pitch. Use your time wisely.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for the tips, Regina. I teach a popular Pitch Like a Pro class and often tell my students that those 10 minutes will fly by more quickly than you could ever imagine. Using your time wisely is sage advice. I think Jane would approve! Please tell us more about your book.


A sweep-the-reader-away story of romance, adventure, and intrigue set in the Jane Austen era.

A master at capturing the elegance, grandeur, and literary style of the Regency era, Regina Jeffers has developed a loyal following with her many popular Jane Austen spin-off novels.

In The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, Jeffers offers a completely original Regency romance featuring highly engaging characters and exciting—even shocking—plot twists. James Kerrington, a future Earl and a key member of the British government’s secret unit, the Realm, never expected to find love again after the loss of his beloved wife.

Kerrington’s world shifts on its axis when Eleanor Fowler stumbles into his arms. Eleanor, however, is hiding a deep secret: she had hoped the death of her father, the Duke William Fowler, would give her family a chance at redemption from the dark past, but when Sir Louis Levering proves her father’s debauchery, Eleanor is thrown into a web of immorality and blackmail. Kerrington and his friends must free Eleanor from Levering’s diabolic hold.

Excerpt (edited for length):

He had circumambulated the whole room when the door suddenly flew open, and James came face-to-face with a golden-haired beauty, who, literally, stumbled and fell into his arms. Instinctively, he steadied her stance by encircling her slim waist, clasping his hands behind her back. Her awkward movements to right herself skimmed her soft curves against the muscular hardness of his chest and abdomen, awakening something in his soul, as well as his body. She was breathtakingly beautiful at this close range and just looking at her aroused him. Although nearly as tall as he, the lady refused to look him in the eye as he used his hand to edge her closer to him.

“I…I apologize, Sir,” she stammered and blushed. Color waves flooded her face. James felt the heat of her body radiate into his, and something unknown stirred. He rarely acted so impulsively with any woman.

Tightening his hold on her, he whispered close to her ear, “I cannot say when I enjoyed an accident more. You have my permission, my Dear, to fall into my waiting arms anytime you so choose.” He had no idea why he acted so boldly. The woman was obviously a lady of good breeding and a member of Fowler’s household, and he should apologize, but James found he enjoyed this moment of indiscretion more than he should.

Eleanor Fowler forced herself to look into his countenance. The man’s steel-grey eyes sparked with silver and gold, flashing in unexplained recognition. Broad-shouldered and athletically built, he was solid—time spent in the saddle or in the fencing halls was quite obvious. Dark brows, closely set, framed those mesmerizing eyes into which she now stared. A strong jaw held a firm mouth, biting back a self-assured smile, and Ella realized too late that her hesitation had given him permission to continue to hold her; his hand pressed against her lower back, moving her inches closer to his flat abdomen.

“I…I am…I am capable of standing on my own,” she choked out.

“You may be, my lovely, but I find your presence leaves me quite incapable of even breathing without your aid. This close, you breathe out…and I will inhale the essence of you.”

Want More Regina?

Regina Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen adaptations, as well as Regency romances. She considers herself a Janeite and spends much of her free time with the Jane Austen Society of North America. A teacher for 39 years, Regina Jeffers is a Time Warner Star Teacher Award winner, a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, a Columbus Educator Award winner, and a guest panelist for the Smithsonian. She has served on various national educational committees and is often sought as a media literacy consultant.

Visit her website here: www.rjeffers.com

Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here.


Mary Simonsen said...

Excellent advise, Regina. I have to remind myself that there is a difference between a "pitch" and a "summary."

Karen V. Wasylowski said...

Wonderful advice from a person who should know. Regina has to fend off publishers, as well as her fans - take it from someone who sat at a book signing with her. She is loved. Wonderful post, Regina.

Heather Lynn Rigaud said...

Regina: Thank you for your clear, direct suggestions. I'm the kinda of person who really prefers to know exactly what's expect and how long it should be. I can be verbose or brief as needed, but I need to know.

Again, excellent post! Thanks!

J. Marie Croft (Joanne) said...

Regina, thanks for sharing your expertise and talent. Not only have you provided us with advantageous advice, but you've also whetted our appetites with an excellent excerpt.
Thank you!

Regina Jeffers said...

I want to say a special thank you to my friends at http://austenauthors.net, who were kind enough to stop by and leave me "good tidings." You Ladies are great!!!

Abigail Reynolds said...

Lovely excerpt, Regina! I'm going to have to read the rest! P.S. I'm a total failure at pitching. :)

Regina Jeffers said...

Abigail, I am "adequate" at the pitch, but I certainly am not comfortable in doing so.