How to Win Pitch Contests: Pitching Tips For Pitch Festivus!

How to Win Pitch Contests: Pitching Tips For Pitch Festivus!

Coming up on December 9 is our second annual FREE Pitch Festivus and Holiday Party.

We’re going to have eight different members of the Jacob Krueger Studio faculty sharing some of their very best pitching tips. 

There are going to be opportunities to connect with our community. 

Most exciting of all, we’re having a little pitch contest where we are going to randomly pick volunteers and give them a chance to pitch their scripts, get some helpful feedback, and compete for a chance to win a one on one pitch consultation with me worth 1500 bucks. It’s gonna be awesome. And it’s totally FREE! 

With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to give you guys some information about how to do a quick pitch. 

How do you create an elevator pitch? How do you pitch for a contest or festival?

It’s important to understand that this is different from a professional pitch or from the kind of pitch that you do at a party, because in the real screenwriting business, there is no such thing as the elevator pitch.

In the screenwriting world, the elevator pitch is a giant myth.

If you haven’t heard the term, the elevator pitch imagines a scenario in which, if you were to bump into Martin Scorsese on the first floor of an elevator, and he hits the button for floor 14, you now have 14 floors to pitch in your project. This is your only opportunity to pitch your screenplay and if those doors open before you’ve finished, you’re screwed. 

That’s not the way it works in the real world. 

In the real world you want a nice quick pitch that you can share with anyone. But no one’s going to cut you off in the middle of your pitch. No one’s going to say, Sorry, that pitch was two minutes and three seconds, and that’s just too long.

Basically, your pitch is simply a pitch of a short length that can hold a person’s attention.

But when you’re competing in a screenplay pitch contest – and there are lots of pitch contests, pitch slams, or other pitch opportunities, including our Pitch Festivus event coming up on Dec 9 – there’s this kind of added pressure of a ticking clock. 

I want to talk to you about how to deal with that pressure, how to prepare yourself for that pressure, and how to be really good with your pitch when you’re pitching for a writing contest or festival like ours.

Here’s the first thing you should know about how to make a quick pitch: Do not rush your pitch.

Take your time. Slow down.

A minute and a half, two minutes, two and a half minutes, whatever the time, is actually a lot of time to pitch your story. 30 seconds is a lot of time to pitch, even 10 seconds.  Take ten seconds right now and just listen to how long ten seconds really is…

No, actually do it.

If you did it, I think you just realized that’s actually a lot of time. That’s more time than you would think when you actually listen to what that dead space sounds like. 

Far too many well-intentioned screenwriters end up rocketing through their pitch so quickly that the person listening can’t even pick up what the pitch is. 

The first thing you want to focus on is the purpose of your pitch. Why are you actually pitching this story?

In the normal world, the only purpose of your pitch is to get somebody to say, Yes, I would like to read your screenplay.

In the real world, unless your name is Sorkin, nobody is going to buy your idea off of a pitch. They want to see the execution on the page.

The real purpose of the pitch is to open a door.

You know what? I’d like to read your screenplay…

You know what? I would pass your script on to my friend…

You know what? That sounds awesome. I would like to help you.

You know what? That sounds great. I’d like to read the script and maybe consider helping with financing or helping with casting, etc. 

The real purpose of the pitch is simply to open a door. That’s the real world.

In the pitch contest world, there is an extra level of pressure, which is that the purpose of the pitch is to win.

I would like to suggest that if you are focused on winning a pitch contest, then you’re probably not focused on pitching your screenplay.

Here’s the thing about pitching: All pitching is personal. All pitching is emotional. All pitching is about a connection. 

I’ve been on enough pitch contest panels to know that sometimes the person who wins is not the perfect person with the perfect pitch.

Sometimes the person who wins is the person who just really connected with a couple of the judges in a way where one of them said, No, it has to be that one. It’s the personal connection that wins the contest. 

You can’t make a personal connection zooming through your pitch at 500 miles per hour.

In fact, I would recommend not launching directly into your pitch at all.

When a person decides to move forward with your project, they’re not just choosing the project. They’re also choosing you.

Often in pitching a screenplay, the most common answer that you’re going to hear is either, Yeah, your screenplay isn’t for us, or, Actually, we already have a similar screenplay in development.

The most common response you’re gonna hear when you pitch your screenplay is notWe want to buy it,” or, “We want to read it. It’s What else have you got? 

The way you get to the What else have you got, is by helping people connect to you so that even if they don’t like the idea, they like the person pitching it. 

They think you’re interesting. 

They’re curious about you. 

It seems like maybe you know what you’re doing. 

It seems like maybe you’ve got something to say. 

It seems like maybe you’re a person they would like to spend some time developing things with.

If you just rush into your pitch, you’re destroying all that personal connection and you’re taking something that should be organic and comfortable, and you’re making it weird. 

Imagine if you sit down at a bar, and the person next to you says, Hey, how are you doing?

And you say, When an American football coach takes over a soccer team in London

The dude is going to look at you like, What? Who are you? What’s going on?

It creates a feeling of alienation. 

I’ve seen so many people just launch into their “sales pitch” in real life and in screenwriting pitch contests without ever bothering to build a connection.

My belief is that all pitching is personal. I would like to recommend that rather than just launching into a sales pitch for your screenplay, start by talking about yourself.

Don’t go on for hours about yourself. Go on for 10 to 15 seconds about yourself, maybe 30 seconds about yourself. Share something true about yourself, something that shows a little little bit of vulnerability.

That doesn’t mean that this is the time to share TMI. I’m almost over my drug problem, or, I’m doing much better now that I’m out of prison. This is not the time for that.

This might be the time for saying something like, Hey, when I was young, this thing happened to me...

Hey, I grew up in this place and this beautiful or terrible thing happened in this place. It changed my life forever. 

Hey, I come from this kind of family and we had this really unusual experience.

Hey, I always dreamed of a life like this, and instead my life turned out like that.

Share something real and specific and true. I’m Jacob Krueger. This is who I am.

Start your pitch by sharing something specific that shows who you are, and then transition to why you’re writing the project. If you start there, people connect to you. 

Let’s say I was going to pitch this podcast. If I started off by saying, The Write Your Screenplay Podcast is a podcast where instead of looking at what’s good or bad about movies, we look at what we can learn from them, you’re probably going to react like, Uh… okay.

Whereas if I start by saying something like, I’m Jacob Krueger. I was a screenwriter for many years, and in a wonderful confluence of events, I stumbled into teaching. In the process of teaching screenwriting, I realized that the way people look at movies, and the role that reviewers tend to play in movies, is actually counterintuitive to what screenwriters need to learn about movies. Critics teach us to judge movies. They’re good, or they’re bad. They’re successful, or they’re unsuccessful. When critics do this, they teach us to judge our own projects and to think of our projects as good or bad; to think about our screenplays in terms of two thumbs up or two thumbs down. As a person who spent a lifetime developing projects, I believe that any screenplay can be made good. I believe that the real job of a reviewer is to help the audience understand what the project says and means, and what the writers were going for. Ideally, the reviewers would help screenwriters understand how to actually develop the project and learn from it, and not dwell on whether it was good or bad, but focus on what they can take from it, and how they can apply that to their own work screenwriting.

Do you see the difference when I share just that little tiny bit of personal information?

Even if you know nothing about the podcast, you start to understand and connect to me. 

Or, I might tell a different personal story. I might say, At the height of my screenwriting career, I went through a period where I suddenly found myself blocked. Where this thing that had been the core of my identity as a screenwriter – being a person in touch with my instrument – suddenly became lost to me. It was devastating. I wasn’t the kind of procrastinator who was off traveling the universe having a good time. I was the kind of procrastinator who literally sat in front of a blank screen, unable to type. That block almost destroyed my career. But I was fortunate enough to have some really wonderful mentors and some really wonderful friends, and I was fortunate enough to develop some writing skills and techniques that brought me out of that.

I just shared something real about myself. That story is 100% true. Hopefully, it allowed you to connect with me a little bit. 

When I start to talk about why I created a podcast that was designed to help writers get out of that critical space and into that connected space, to help writers get past the intellect and the inner censor and all the things that lead to writer’s block, to help writers get past I can’t write or my writing is flat and instead to actually realize how wide open they can be and how freely they can write…

You can see by telling that story, you already know that I’m the right person to to share this podcast with you.

If you didn’t connect to that story, then great. That just means you’re not my people. You’re probably not going to enjoy this podcast anyway because I just shared something real about myself that was not connected to you.

If you start your pitch with some true, personal thing, and then make the transition to the script, the listener will start to have a connection with you.

They’ll start to care about you as a person, and they’ll be much more invested in you as a writer. They’ll also start to imagine all kinds of things about your story. 

By telling you those two different stories, even if I didn’t share anything about how the podcast works or what the format is, you would start to say to yourself, Oh, I kind of get it. I kind of understand. I can see. 

I can imagine, just based on this personal information, that this podcast is probably designed to help writers. 

I imagine that I’m probably gonna learn some of those things that Jake’s mentors shared with him. 

I’m probably gonna learn some of the tools that he developed himself.

By sharing just that much, you start to make some guesses about the project. You start to understand why I’m not just somebody trying to sell you something. I’m trying to share something with you that matters to me. I’m trying to share that I’m not just another writer throwing crap against the wall, but rather, I’m somebody baring my soul to you.

By the way, that true, personal thing about yourself doesn’t have to be serious. It can be funny. It can be goofy. It can be dramatic. 

Sharing that one true thing in your pitch that connects you to the piece helps people to understand why this piece actually matters.

So start by sharing something about yourself.

The next thing that you should think about is that there’s not just one way to pitch your script. There are lots of different ways to pitch a screenplay. 

You want your pitch to feel personalized to whomever you are pitching it to.

Please, do not do one of these rote logline pitches: When a man finds out blah blah blah blah… 

Don’t read your pitch. 

Let me say it again… Do not read your pitch!

When you read your pitch, you are actually sending a subconscious message to the person listening that says, This pitch is not special for you. This is exactly what I say to everyone about my screenplay. You can go ahead and tune out because I’m not even connected.

Also, when I read my pitch, I am implying to you that I don’t really know my story. I have to reference a cheat sheet to even remember what I wrote. I’m showing you a sign that I lack confidence in my screenplay, rather than a sign that I’m confident in what I’ve written.

The truth of the matter is, if your script is even close to being ready to pitch, then you know it inside and out, upside down and backwards. You’ve rewritten your screenplay 52 times, and you know what it is at the core.

All you really have to do for a great pitch is tell the truth.

The next important element of a quick pitch is to not get hung up in all the details.

If your script is well structured, then there’s a simple unified story tying it all together.

Focus on the simple. Focus on what matters most without getting bogged down in all the little elements. 

What is the most alarming thing? What is the most exciting thing?

Usually, that’s gonna be some combination of:

Who is the character? Who is this piece about? 

What connects you to them?

What do they like?

What’s interesting about them to you? 

What do they want?

What’s the really hard thing that they’re trying to accomplish and what makes that matter?

What is the obstacle? What stands in the way? What makes it hard?

What are the ironic choices and the ironic consequences that occur for them as they pursue their journey?

That’s the next element. 

You should practice this in lots and lots and lots of different ways.

Pitch your script to lots of different people, but never pitch it the same way twice.

What that does is it allows you to be present in the moment rather than reciting something from memory. It allows you to read the person’s eyes instead of being in your head trying to remember the next line. It allows you to be present with the person in front of you.

If you’re pitching your screenplay in front of a panel, either pick someone with kind eyes and make eye contact with that person, or practice looking from one person to the next, making eye contact with each. 

If you’re online, pick the person in the room who seems most enamored with your work, and just look at them the whole darn time.

What that will do is create a feeling of connection that you can then read in their face.

If they look confused by your pitch, then slow down and go deeper.

If they look like they’re holding back a yawn, then you’ve got to change your pace. You’ve got to shake things up. You’ve got to get on to the next thing.

If they look riveted, then you want to keep going down that road. 

If they look like they want to say something, then you can take a breath and allow them to speak. 

As you start to read their eyes, you’ll start to realize things like, Ah, that was the same reaction I had when I pitched this other person. I’m not going to go down that road

Or, You know what, when I’m pitching this kind of person, this start never works. I’m going to go with that start. I’m going to amplify this different element.

When you’re pitching your screenplay, you might amplify story worlds as a way of connecting to a particular person.

Let’s say we’re pitching Westworld. Again, you might start by telling a real story. 

When I was a child, I had this stuffed animal that I kind of used to express the parts of myself that I was afraid to share. I was a really, really, really good kid. So the stuffed animal was like a really, really, bad stuffed animal. He was a little bit nuts. He was rebellious. He didn’t listen to people. He did all the things that you think are really bad when you’re five years old. Like pollution. He was really into pollution. 

(This is a 100% true story I’m sharing with you right now. I really did have such a stuffed animal, and I really did imagine that he was into bad stuff that I didn’t normally do!)

Now, I didn’t write Westworld, but let’s pretend that I did. I might continue my pitch by saying, It wasn’t until I started studying Jung and when I discovered concepts like the bicameral mind that I started to realize that this little game I played with my stuffed animal as a kid was actually an expression of the shadow self. 

I started to think about what comes out in us when we think we are free to play, when we think that there are no consequences to our actions.

I just made the transition to pitching Westworld even though I’ve told you nothing about Westworld

Hopefully, you feel compelled by me now. You feel compelled that I’m telling you this story for a reason. 

I dropped in the bicameral mind idea that Westworld is really exploring, and I let you know that I understand psychology.

But really, I just started with a real, personal story.

(The truth is I wanted to tell a fake story, but then I realized that I would be lying to you, so I showed you something real instead.)

In making the transition now to Westworld, I might say something like, This is about a world where rich people can go and experience the Wild West. And all the inhabitants of this world look like real people. They feel like real people. They interact like real people. They have emotions like real people, but they’re not real people.

They are actually advanced cyborgs. They’re robots. They’re robots that don’t know they are robots. They are robots that don’t know they are acting out a pattern.

What happens in Westworld is that you can shoot somebody, and nothing matters. They’ll just be brought back to life the next day because they’re just a robot. It’s a world where you can fall in love, or you can rape someone, and none of your actions have any consequences even though all the feelings, the emotions, even the physical hurt, are real. Consequences don’t exist in Westworld. And that brings out both the beautiful shadow and the dark shadow of the people who come to play here. 

You can see that I just pitched you Westworld even though I left out 10,000 elements of Westworld.

But you now know what the hook is, and I did it in only a couple of minutes.

At this point in your pitch, somebody is either gonna say, Tell me more about your screenplay, or they’re gonna say, You know what, your screenplay is not for me. Either answer is great for you.

The It’s not for me answer lets you say, Okay, well, what are you looking for?

The Tell me more answer means that they’re interested.

That’s an example of a short pitch that just focuses on world.

There’s another version of that short pitch where I can tell the exact same story about my childhood toy and say, What I realized was that I was projecting myself onto the stuffed animal as if I were God. And I start to think, what if? 

What if that stuffed animal wasn’t just a stuffed animal? 

What if that stuffed animal had the perceptions of a real person? 

So this is a story about a robot who believes she is a person.

She’s a cyborg who doesn’t know that she’s just an attraction at a theme park where rich people come to interact with characters from the Wild West that are actually robots. They are robots who don’t know that they are robots acting out the same patterns again and again and again and again.

This character doesn’t realize that she is also acting out the same pattern again and again; 

That every day she greets her father the same way.

That every day, she drops her can of beans that the handsome young gentleman picks up for her.

That every day, a really dark and twisted guest, shows up, rapes her, tortures her, and ruins her life, only for everything to reset again the following day. 

This is a story about what happens when that robot starts to believe that she has free will and makes choices that lead her from being the sweet, helpless, victimized girl next door into a murderer, a killer, a creature of violence that will rally the other robots to rise up around her and overthrow the forces that are oppressing her. 

And central to this piece is the question, Is she actually arriving at free will or is this also a part of the attraction? Are these her choices or is it also a part of her programming? In other words, are we actually built out of nature or nurture?

That’s me telling the exact same story except from the point of view of one character. 

I could also pitch the exact same story from the point of view of the Man in Black in Westworld (with or without giving away the trick ending).

This is a story about the nicest guy to ever show up at this park.

The last thing this guy wants to do is go shoot a bunch of people who think they’re people even though they’re robots.

The last thing he wants to do is go rape someone. 

The last thing he wants to do is fall in love. 

The last thing he wants to do is to be part of what he sees as a sick venture because he is a kind person.

But this young man does fall in love. He falls in love with a creature that is not capable of loving him back, even though she believes she does, because she is not human. 

This is a story about how his desire for love transforms him, transforms her, and transforms the whole world.

Similarly, this is a story about the Man in Black, a twisted man who is trying to solve a puzzle in this world that we do not understand. It’s a puzzle that is rooted in violence and in the darkness of his own soul. 

It’s a story about how these two characters come together; about that odd connection that no one would ever expect that connects both the kindest and the worst person in this world. 

It’s a story that asks the question, Do we actually have any control over our destiny, or are we predetermined to become something that we do or don’t want to be?

I can pitch this same story a million different ways, and I should practice doing just that.

I can pitch a character. 

I can pitch a world. 

I can pitch a different character. 

I can pitch the structure of the piece. 

I can pitch the way that the time periods don’t match up, and how we are fragmented across time between the creation and the culmination of this park. 

I can pitch it around the philosophy of the bicameral mind and the question of man’s relationship to God.

Even though there are a million different ways I can pitch the same series, you notice that in each of these pitches I just get really deep into one aspect. I don’t try to hit all of them.

What I’m going to try to hit is the most alarming element for any one pitch, with a couple of twists.

I’m going to try to find at least one or two levels of irony, at least one or two levels of depth, at least one or two levels of I bet you didn’t see that coming, at least one or two levels of structure.

I’m going to always try to have multiple levels to my pitch. Do you get it? Well, the script is actually even cooler than that. Do you get it? Well, it’s even cooler than that. Think you get it? Well check out what I’ve got up my sleeve now! 

I’m always trying to get at least three levels of my pitch, so I can carry the person deep into the project. 

That’s a pitch: a personal story, followed by a quick deep dive into one element you find really cool with a couple of twists and reversals.

The third element that I want you to focus on in your quick pitch for your screenplay is this: If you get nervous, breathe. 

What most people do when they get nervous is speed up.

What most people do when they see someone losing attention is try to shove it down their throat.

What most people do when they realize that they’re bombing is they keep talking.


Practice taking two breaths between each idea that you get. What will happen as you breathe, first off, is that you will calm yourself. You will get yourself out of fight-or-flight and back into a meditative state where you’re more in control of your ideas. 

You’ll also notice that breath actually pulls the listener into your pitch.

The breath does not make you look nervous, even if you’re feeling nervous. The breath makes you feel powerful, look powerful, seem powerful. The breath makes you seem like someone who can take their time.

Because nature abhors a vacuum, when you force yourself to breathe, the person you are pitching to will often ask you a question. Thanks to that question, your pitch becomes so much easier because while you’re probably not used to pitching, you’re very used to responding when somebody says, Tell me more about your character. Who is she? What does she want? What happens next? What’s her relationship with her mom like? Where does it take place? 

If I were to ask you those questions, pitching would be much easier. 

When you breathe, you invite the audience, the listener, to ask you questions, and that makes pitching so much easier. 

If you’re nervous and struggle with pitching, instead of writing out your pitch, write out the questions you wish people would ask when you pitch.

When you then get nervous, take a breath and see which of those questions pops into your head. Then answer that question.

If you can simply prompt yourself with questions, well guess what? You already know the answer! You’re pitching your baby. It’s your project. It’s what you love. It’s what you created.

If you don’t know what to say, take a breath. Think about what question they are probably asking right now and then answer it. 

What that will do is help propel you through the pitch.

Let’s get to feedback on your pitch.

You’ve gotten through your sweet little pitch, you’ve customized it for that person, you’ve read their eyes, you’ve connected, you’ve shared something about yourself, you’ve shared the core of what the piece means and what makes the piece cool with a couple of extra levels, twists, and complications. 

What’s going to happen is that you’re likely to get some feedback.

The urge for most writers when they get feedback is often to get defensive. 

You want to remember that getting defensive about your pitch is not going to be valuable for you because the real goal here is not to sell your script. It’s to build a connection.

The goal is not to make the sale. It’s to get the I’d like to read this or to get to the next step.

I’ve seen so many pitch contests where the judges liked someone, but when they start to defend their piece, the judges ended up turning on them. 

Most likely, the judges know better than you do. They’re probably more experienced than you are. They’re probably seeing flaws in your pitch. They’re probably noticing, as you pitch, the problems that exist in your structure that you might not even be aware of yet. 

While that might be hard to accept in a pitch contest, the good news is that if you pay attention, you might learn some really powerful things that are more valuable than getting a script that isn’t ready to be read yet into somebody’s hands.

In our Pitch Festivus in particular, the focus is not on winning. The focus is on helping. 

At our event, you are going to be surrounded by people whose only goal is to make you better at pitching your screenplay. With us, the truth is that even if you get defensive, we will be there for you and we will be helpful. Our goal is to help you master your pitch.

In a lot of pitch contests, the judges are not necessarily teachers. You want to remind yourself, When I get feedback, I’m not going to fight the feedback. I’m going to be curious about it. I’m not going to try to diffuse the feedback, I’m going to get curious about it. If the feedback isn’t valuable, I’m going to accept it. I’m not going to get defensive. What I’m going to do is get curious, and I’m going to try to respond to the comments.

Let’s say I just pitched Westworld and the person says, You know, I don’t think these multiple time periods are gonna work. 

Your instinct is going to be, Of course they work! As opposed to saying something like, Oh? What was your concern about them?

They reply, Well, I just don’t think we’re gonna know whether we’re in the past or the present.

You respond, You know, I’m so glad you brought that up because one of the biggest challenges that I had as I was working on the piece was to figure out how to differentiate the past and the present. At first, I was really trying.

Then I realized that in our real world we struggle to differentiate between the past and the present too. In our real lives, it’s almost like the past and present are active all the time. Like we’re dealing with something that happened a long time ago at the same time that we are dealing with things happening in the present. And the things that happened long ago actually affect the way we go about dealing with things in the present. 

Ultimately (Again, I didn’t really write Westworld), what I came up with was complicated. I’m not gonna be able to explain it all to you in a pitch. But I figured out that, at first, we’ll actually think we’re watching the same story. 

As each episode happens, we’re going to start to recognize and become curious about a fragmentation that’s happening. By the end, we’re actually going to have something kind of like (and here I’m going to give the person a nice comparison) The Usual Suspects where you suddenly realize that Keyser Söze is actually spinning a fiction. There’s going to be that same kind of revelation where everything you watched suddenly makes a different kind of sense to you. 

I know it might seem challenging, and it was challenging, but it actually works.

Now that judge is probably thinking, Wow, I actually am curious to see if you pulled that off. 

On the other hand, let’s say I’ve never thought about their note, and I actually don’t have a good answer. 

I’m still not going to get defensive. I’m not going to say, No, trust me. It works.

I’m going to say, Wow, that is actually a really valuable amount of feedback. You know, I actually should have thought of that, and I really appreciate you pushing me in that way. I’m curious, if I were to solve that issue, would you be interested in reading the piece? Or were there other problems with the piece that raised concerns for you?

You see what I just did? I actually turned the feedback around on them. 

Now they’re going to basically tell me whether they really just didn’t like the piece, or whether solving their problem would actually help them.

Let’s imagine they respond by saying, You know, the truth is that it’s just not for me. I don’t make cyborg movies and it really sounds like it’s not my kind of thing

I’m not going to take their notes about the past and present very seriously because it’s not a show for them.

I don’t like these intellectual kind of shows about the bicameral mind. You lost me there. 

Guess what? That’s not my audience. I’m running Westworld

In my next pitch, I might find ways to deepen it to kind of hit the action elements a little harder when I’m pitching this kind of dude. But I’m not going to take their note very seriously if they wouldn’t even be interested in the movie if I solve their issue. That means that’s not a real note.

Whereas if they say, Well, yeah, if you solved it, then I’d be curious about it, then great. Or if they say, Well, maybe but here’s the other concern I have. Now you actually understand what the real problem is. 

The most important thing is to use your pitches as an opportunity to learn because most pitches don’t sell screenplays in the real world or in a pitch contest.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have an opportunity to build a relationship. 

The truth of the matter is that everybody wants to be a mentor. Everybody wants to help you. 

Let’s say the person says, Yeah, if you can solve that problem, I would take a look

You say, Great. I’m really grateful. Thank you so much. Now you just want to set up the next step. Hey, what would the next step be? 

But if the person says, Hey, look, honestly, even if you solve that problem, it’s really not for me, then you can turn them into a mentor. 

You can say, Hey, I totally get it. It’s not for you, but the script is really good. It’s like this movie or this show that made a lot of money for these people in the last couple of years, so I know it’s going to be successful for somebody. It’s got a great role for this person and this person and this person. If it was your piece, who would you bring it to?

You see what I just did? I just turned them into a mentor. 

Even though I didn’t get the sale that I wanted, or even the read that I wanted, I now have somebody who potentially might be in my corner, who could help me get to the next person who can help. It can help me turn what would have been a cold call into a, Hey, this person said I should call. 

This is the value of that pitch. This is the same game you want to play if you’re at a pitch fest. 

If you’re at a contest, if you’re one on one, if you’re at a party, you don’t need to win the contest. Sure the prize is great, but you don’t need to win the contest.

What you really need to do when you pitch is build connections with those people on the panel who can help you. You need to get the interest, build the community, build the network, where you can reach out.

Most importantly, you need to learn how to make yourself a better writer. That is the real goal of pitching. 

That’s the real goal of Pitch Festivus, and that’s the real goal of this podcast.

I hope that this podcast was helpful. I hope to see you at Pitch Festivus on December 9, and happy writing.


If you’re enjoying what you’re seeing here, like and follow.

And if you want to study with me then check out Thursday Night Writes. It is free! Every Thursday night at

*Edited for length and clarity 


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