Pitch Clinic With Agent Critiques: How to Shape an Excellent Pitch to Hook Editors & Agents — Nov. 12 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp

If your query isn’t getting many requests from agents and editors for more, chances are your pitch is to blame. The query pitch — where you explain what your book is about in several sentences — is the crucial, most important part of the query. Your pitch must be clear, concise, interesting, and possess a flavor of the manuscript’s voice. So if you’re struggling with your pitch, we have an opportunity that allow you to get not only instruction on pitching, but also a critique of your pitch from not one but two established literary agents.

This all-new Pitch Clinic Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (starts Nov. 12, 2013) will show you how to best present your book to literary agents and editors. In this intensive boot camp, 5 literary agents will personally help you compose and shape your book’s pitch – so you will have an excellent chance of hooking agents with a description of your story. As with all WD boot camps, seats are limited, so sign up for before the class reaches its maximum size and is closed.


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Pitch Clinic will show you how to do the following:

  • How to boil down your entire book into 1-2 paragraphs.
  • How to understand the differences between pitching fiction/memoir (where the story is key) vs. pitching nonfiction (where concept and platform are key).
  • How to properly introduce your story’s main characters and, if necessary, the story world.
  • How to start your pitch at an interesting, dramatic place in the story.
  • How to pull agents in and get them interested in your main character(s) – and their journey.
  • How to understand clear core points in your story that are mandatory to explain in the pitch.
  • How to apply the golden rule of pitching: Show, don’t tell.
  • How to avoid vague language in a pitch that will sink your submission.
  • How to identify the most exciting elements that illustrate your work.
  • How to build in a cliffhanger – leaving the ending to your story unclear, with agents wanting more.
  • How to eliminate commonly used yet ineffective clichés in pitches, such as rhetorical questions.
  • How to make sure your pitch entices an agent/editor to request your full manuscript!

By the end of this Agent One-on-One Pitch Clinic, you will be chock-full of actionable wisdom. You will take away inventive ideas, secrets and formulas. The critiques will cut through the mystery of attracting an agent or editor to say YES, and you’ll have a clear path on what to do next. Sign up for the Pitching Agent One-on-One Boot Camp here.

Here’s how it works:

On November 12, you will gain access to a special 60-minute online tutorial presented by literary agent Katharine Sands of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary. This tutorial will provide nuts & bolts advice on how to help you compose and streamline your pitch.

After listening to the presentation, attendees will spend the next two days writing and revising their pitch as necessary. Following the tutorial, writers will have two days in which to log onto a special message board and ask your assigned agent critiquer questions related to revising your materials. The agents will be available on the message boards from 1-3 p.m. (EST) on both Wednesday, Nov, 13 and Thursday, Nov. 14. No later than Friday, Nov. 15, attendees will submit their completed pitch for feedback directly to the boot camp literary agents.

The agents will spend up to 10 days reviewing all assigned pitches and provide feedback to help attendees. (The agents reserve the right to request more materials if they feel a strong connection to the work and want to read more; note that agents have signed writers before from WD boot camps.) No later than Nov. 25, agents will send their feedback to writer attendees. Each writer’s pitch will receive a critique from two different agents – allowing for notes from multiple professional perspectives. Sign up for the Pitching Agent One-on-One Boot Camp here.

About the critique: Agents will be critiquing writers’ pitches. The pitch (200 words max) is what is found in a query letter explaining the plot, characters and conflict of a book. Agents will not be critiquing full queries, but rather just the largest and most important section of a query, which is the pitch. The exception for this is for those attendees writing any nonfiction that is not memoir. Because it is so important for nonfiction authors to not only pitch their book but pitch themselves as well (credentials/platform), the agents will be critiquing full query letters (intro/pitch/bio – 1 page max) for writers of nonfiction. Fiction writers should turn in a pitch only (200 words max), so agent critiques can concentrate on that all-important section. The agent instructors will provide a helpful critique of at least one paragraph, either giving their thoughts in general, or marking up individual pitch lines with thoughts, or both.

About the instructors

Katharine Sands is a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. She has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books, including Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months that Change Your Life Before You Give Birth by Dr. Shawn Tassone and Dr. Kathryn Landherr; Talk to Strangers: How Everyday Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life by David Topus; and The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him and Make Him Beg for More by Arden Leigh. Katharine is the agent author of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents. Actively building her client list of both fiction and nonfiction writers, she likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir and femoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed.

Jessica Sinsheimer (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary) seeks the following fiction categories: women’s, literary, young adult fiction (all subgenres), and middle grade fiction; she also seeks the following nonfiction categories: food/cooking, food memoirs, popular science, popular psychology, parenting, history/politics, and most narrative nonfiction.

Roseanne Wells joined Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an associate agent in 2012. Previously with the Marianne Strong Literary Agency, she has also worked as a proofreader and a special sales and editorial assistant. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with degrees in Literature and Dance. An avid reader, Roseanne discovered her passion for book publishing during her internship at W. W. Norton, and she approaches agenting as a writer’s advocate, editor, and partner. She is also an arts reviewer for PlayShakespeare.com and a volunteer for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho, NYC. She seeks a variety of fiction genres and nonfiction categories.

Brooks Sherman [FinePrint Literary] is on the lookout for adult fiction that runs the gamut from literary and upmarket to speculative (particularly urban/contemporary fantasy rooted in realistic settings, horror/dark fantasy, and magical realism), as well as historical fiction and crime fiction. On the children’s side, he is seeking middle grade novels of all genres (but particularly fantasy adventure and contemporary), and is open to YA fiction of all types except paranormal romance. He would especially love to get his hands on a dark and/or funny contemporary YA project. Brooks is specifically seeking projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot lines; he particularly enjoys flawed (but sympathetic) protagonists and stories that organically blur the lines between genres. Stories that make him laugh earn extra points. Recent favorites include Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Defending Jacob by William Landay, Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne, The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, You by Charles Benoit, The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer, and Horns by Joe Hill. He is thrilled to be living once more in Brooklyn, after a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in bucolic West Africa and a one-year stint in the savage jungles of Hollywood. As befitting his chosen career in publishing, he subsists on a diet of breadcrumbs and bourbon.

Rachel Ekstrom‘s (Irene Goodman Literary) decade of experience working in the publicity departments at St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and Penguin’s Dutton and Gotham imprints has given her an insider’s view of the publishing industry. With a knack for book promotion, she’s honed her skills building the careers of debut authors and #1 New York Times bestsellers. Rachel is passionate about a variety of genres, including young adult, women’s fiction, new adult, mysteries, thrillers, romance, and the occasional quirky work of nonfiction. She’s looking for books that will make her heart beat faster than it does when she’s biking through Manhattan traffic.


Sign up for the Pitching Agent One-on-One Boot Camp here.

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