I admit that I’m cheating a little bit. I didn’t have time to answer the actual questions I got because of the pitch contest. But I thought this particular question was germane to our current discussion. Originally it was asked over on the GLA blog. Chuck answered the question, and then I felt the need to add my own, long winded opinion. Here I’ve duplicated, with permission. (Chuck is very nice.)

One of (my group’s writers) is co-authoring a book. She wants to know if she and her co-author would be advised to pitch this book to agents together at our upcoming conference, or if they should they pitch separately, maximizing their coverage. What should they do?

Chuck’s Answer:
Depends. I recently pitched a book to an editor with my writing partner nowhere in sight. It didn’t matter because I knew answers to questions. If these writers are a two-headed monster (perhaps one knows the material, the other the marketing), then they should stick together for sure. Presenting together tends to give off a professional approach. To me, at least…

If time is an issue, then you they want to split up. At our conference in LA last weekend, we had some long lines for a few agents and hundreds of writers running around. We keep the pitch time very short so the line keeps moving; but if you truly fear you will be missing face time with agents you really want to see, then split up down the stretch.

My brilliant additional two cents:
I agree with Chuck, but I thought I’d add my own perspective on the matter too.

As the editor who was pitched the book, I can tell you that Chuck is right in his case. He does know all the answers to all the questions, and if he doesn’t, he finds out quickly enough. I’ve actually never had any contact at all with his co-writer. Everything she says comes through Chuck since he was the one that pitched the book. In this example, Chuck has become the point person for this team. Although I would love to meet the other author, it is not entirely necessary.

However, if neither author wishes to take the lead, then the two should always try to communicate simultaneously using teleconferencing or CCed emails, and you should pitch together at the conference. Everyone should have equal say in all decisions anyway, but in this case you would also want equal access to the editor or agent. If you start by pitching separately, the person who actually physically does the pitch becomes the de facto leader of the team simply by having a longer, even if by only a few days, relationship with the editor/agent.

Finally, before you decide whether or not to split up, you both need to consider your own pitch skills and styles. If you pitch best as a team with each of you bolstering and hitting ideas off one another, then pitch as a team. Also, if one of you is a vastly superior pitcher, consider pitching as a team or having only one person do the pitch. What you do not want to do is pitch separately if either one of you is a poor pitcher or if your styles of pitches are going to be radically different. You don’t want to break each others confidence in one another over something as unimportant (in the overall scheme of things) as a three-minute pitch. Practice beforehand and make certain you are both confident and calm before you go pitch separately.

Any ideas of your own on this subject? Leave us a comment. I’d love to see this open into a discussion.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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