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Making the Perfect Pitch: Advice from 45 Top Book Agents

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Aimed at beginning and experienced writers of all sorts of fiction and nonfiction, this guide explains how to craft a successful "pitch" (query letter) to a literary agent. Written by literary agents and other industry professionals, 40 contributions discuss such topics as identifying selling points, conveying enthusiasm, and targeting the pitch to the right agents. Annota ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Watson-Guptill
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Travis Casey
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
If you're looking to get published the traditional way, i.e. through an agent, stay well away from this book. Having been rejected 24 times, I thought I best find out what agents look for when looking to represent an author. By the end of the book, I went out and bought a lottery ticket feeling I had just as much chance of getting lucky on Lotto as I do having an agent sign me up.

The author, an agent herself, interviews other agents, and the reasons for rejection can be as obscure as them suffer
Christian McKay
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: runner-ups
It's strange reading a three-hundred page book in order to learn how to write two paragraphs. But I never felt like I was wasting my time. Those two paragraphs could be the difference between an audience of twelve or an audience of twelve-thousand. Learning what excites agents and what thoroughly pisses them off, what information is necessary and what is extraneous, even what kind of envelope to use: This is a wealth of information for first time authors.

Digesting a full manuscript into just a
Chris Eirschele
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend reading this book if you are a writer with a book manuscript in the works.
Though I read Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands for help in creating a pitch for my fiction manuscript, the book does include many suggestions for writers with nonfiction manuscripts, too.
It is a compilation of thoughts and recommendations from many literary agents. Making the Perfect Pitch was published by The Writer Books, an imprint of Kalmbach Trade Press.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A lifesaver.
Elizabeth Laborde
Sometimes, a reader finds the right book at the right time, and such was the case with Making the Perfect Pitch >. Next month, I face the daunting task of pitching to agents at ThrillerFest in New York. While the opportunity to discuss my crime novel with an agent is welcome, it's also nerve-wracking, to say the least. This book helps to ease the journey. It provides writers with insider perspectives on what works and what doesn't in the world of pitching. Literally, dozens of agents share their ...more
Randall Moore
Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands is a valuable look into the minds of powerful literary agents, their thought processes, their preferences and how they make their decisions. The many interviews and articles offer insights for what many find is a frustrating and mysterious process. Helpful suggestions from agents and agency heads abound and it is clear that all are very passionate about finding that next undiscovered diamond in the rough. Among the things discussed are unsolicited subm ...more
Tom Franklin
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Short chapters by and interviews with agents across the publishing spectrum, collected by a writer/agent.

Although published in 2004 the overall themes are still current.

The occasional contradictory advice from agents (Start with your information; start with a hook) just shows you need to go with what works for you -- or try to do some specific research on the agent you're querying.

While there wasn't much new information here, it's well worth the read to discover the way agents think and approac
Michele Cacano
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
Each chapter presents an essay by or an interview with a literary agent, or editor or publisher. Much good advice is repeated throughout - all the better to sink into the reader's noggin! I feel much more confident in my attempts to query and pitch my work now. I marked several pages, and intend to continue to reference this book throughout my process, but am very glad to have read it. It is entertaining as well as informative, and each agent's voice is clear and helpful. ...more
A.Y. Berthiaume
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For any writer trying to understand the industry or the ins-and-outs of pitching your project in hopes to win over an agent, this book should be on your shelf. Highlight it. Study it. Read the bios of each contributor. Flag the pages with resources. Post-it note and underline the questions you should know how to answer when talking about your manuscript (in writing or in person). Do not let this amazing resource go to waste. If ever a way to get inside several agents minds all at once and unders ...more
May 18, 2017 added it
I recently attended a very informative webinar by the author and ordered her book for more information and inspiration. However, because it is a compendium of dozens of individual agent essays and Q&As on the same topic, the book is rife with repetition and unfortunately, some contradictory advice.
Of course, alienating literary agents by criticizing their books should be number one on the list of how not to get an agent. But somehow, it wasn't even mentioned.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of these were amazing but some seemed a little pompous. Lot of repetition but I think that it was helpful overall.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
A broad overview, with good information. Could have used a once-more-over from a proofreader.
Carole Duff
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of advice with an essential take-away: writers need to pitch, query, and propose before they can be published. Publishing involves a shift of focus from writing to selling—the business of writing. What is your book, why does the world need it, what is the market? Other gems: writing is solitary, publishing is collaborative; write a query an agent cannot say no to for fear of missing something special; the perfect pitch is a powerful summary of the book; what’s the idea and can the a ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
This book has great practical advice although sometimes the information is contradictory or repetitive (naturally). Most agents seemed to agree on the majority of advice but differed on gift-giving, "Hollywood" pitches, e-mail queries and whether it was okay to call agents.

This would be a helpful book to add to a writer's research shelf but it only skims the basics of how to write a book proposal, synopsis, etc. so if you're aim is step-by-step instructions, you'll need something more specific.
Jaycee Carolina Lewis
I liked this guidebook because of the varied viewpoints, thoughts and opinions. There is useful information for Fiction and Non-Fiction writers both.

Combining this book with Thinking Like Your Editor will give you a good foundation on what agents and editors are looking for in your pitches and proposals. And what they are NOT looking for as well.

This is not a step by step guide although each chapter is full of actionable steps. Making the Perfect Pitch is an opportunity inside the hearts and mi
Matthew Harrill
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow - what a revelation. As an author with not a lot of query experience, I am so in debt to a friend for recommending that I get this book. Pages are folded on interesting nuggets, exactly where the books previous owner wrote on the pages! I swear its the literary equivalent of The Half Blood Prince's Potions Book! Granted that maybe ten years after being compiled some of the opinions are a little dated (SASE? Maybe not any more), but ALL of the information on how to write a query letter is pur ...more
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very helpful anthology of thirty essays by agents or interviews with agents about pitching. A lot of varying topics are covered and different opinions given, but the collection created a pretty coherent picture of what a good query feels like. I am not sure if there is a newer edition than mine, but of course, the 2004 edition does contain some information that is probably out of date, but very little.
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think this book offers great insight into crafting the perfect pitch through the eyes of well-known agents. You get a better sense of the agents out there, too. Some examples even piqued my interest in the books! (i.e. the history of falling). I do have one critique. I'm going to take a page from an agent for a moment and say-- I would love to see a book that simply lists 100 top pitches, especially for children's books. ...more
Tony  Bradshaw
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What I really like about this book is that it's full of advice from agents. It gave me the perspective of what agents want to see in the book proposal.
For me personally, I know I must build my platform a LOT more before contacting another agent.
Another great perspective on this book was how to pitch non-fiction as well as fiction. Any author can glean great tips and the correct outlook on how to approach an agent through this book.
Victoria Pendragon
Aug 16, 2008 is currently reading it
Excellent ideas. The idea of having so many views from so many different literary agents really makes an aspiring writer feel comforted. You can get, in a non-judgemental way, why your piece might not be the piece for just anyone and why it may strike the perfect match for you...if you learn how to place yourself.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I write primarily YA fiction, so the too-much 'non-fiction' help and odd things like poetry were unhelpful. But the few times the agents mentioned fiction, that was extremely helpful and I got a lot of good tips from it. Well worth the non-fiction slog. ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing
Incredibly useful book about how to craft the "perfect pitch" for a literary agent. Also includes some excellent lessons to carry into the nonfiction book proposal. Offers a nice insider's perspective on the personalities behind some of the most successful literary agent houses today. ...more
Richard Cytowic
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
An older title, but full of useful advice. The mistakes novices make can be hilarious.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide.
Michelle Tellez
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for anyone preparing for a pitch.
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Not just about "pitching" Great info by agents and editors regarding the industry and writing query letters that will wow. ...more
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent advice for the aspiring writer. An agent recommended it to me and I've passed it on to friends.The variety of agents that contributed makes this a valuable tool. ...more
Amanda Ronan
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
The basic advice was good, but since it was a collection of chapters from different agents the advice was scattered and somewhat conflicting.
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