Last week, I promised that we would take a look at a big no-no when it comes to pitching your ideas. But I realized after I made that promise that I haven't really talked about what to bring into a pitch meeting at a conference. So I'll save the "what not to do" thing for next week, okay?
Basically, you can/should bring two things: a one sheet and a proposal for your novel, one that includes sample chapters.
Now I'm no expert on one sheets, but my philosophy on those is to keep it simple. I've seen some one sheets that a chock-full of graphics and fancy designs, but I wonder if that really helps. Instead, put the book's title, genre, and wordcount on it. Put a back-cover type blurb on it, along with your bio and contact information. I usually also include a picture of myself so that if the editor or agent takes the one sheet, they'll have a face to go with the name. If you want to see some examples of one sheets, head over to Rachelle Gardner's blog. Her most recent post is about what to bring to a conference, but it also includes links to sample one sheets.
As for the proposal, that can be tricky. Different houses and agencies have different requirements. It's impossible to craft one that will please everyone in terms of content and format. You definitely want to put in your hook, your back-cover copy, any spiritual payload or theme you're trying to convey. Include a one to two page synopsis, your bio, any marketing ideas you might have. And be sure to include sample chapters as well. It's been my experience that in a pitch session, the editor or agent will want to see what you bring to the table.
Again, I'm no expert. If you do some searches on-line for sample proposals, you'll find some. Rip off the general structure and you should do fine.
The one thing to remember is this: it's very unlikely that the agent or editor you're meeting with will keep your one sheet or proposal. After all, they have to pay for their checked luggage too, and the last thing they need is to try to stuff a carry on or suitcase full of paper from their meetings. If they do keep it, that's great. If they don't, it's not a big deal either. Every agent or editor has their own style and preferences when it comes to this.
With that out of the way, next week we'll talk about a huge "DON'T" when it comes to pitch meetings. See you then!