Abbott is exactly the person you want to take this kind of advice from. She’s one of the most well known writer-producers in the business, with a welter of successful television and film credits to her name (including Magnum PI and Diagnosis Murder). Sitting on both sides of the table, Abbott’s experience with pitching, and being pitched to, informs this memorable, punchy guide.
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
10 Minutes to the Pitch:
Your last-minute guide and checklist for selling your story
By Chris Abbott
ISBN 1-931290-56-3, 120pages, $12.95
Your hands are sweaty, your heart is beating fast, your perfectly crafted screenplay is in your jelly like lap, and you’ve got 10 minutes to sell it to a producer whose nails suddenly seem to fascinate him. Quick, what do you say to gain that illusive attention? Chris Abbott’s cute little red book is small enough to fit indiscriminately under your script in your handbag or briefcase, but pithy enough to give you everything you need to deal with this critical situation confidently. Abbott is exactly the person you want to take this kind of advice from. She’s one of the most well known writer-producers in the business, with a welter of successful television and film credits to her name (including Magnum PI and Diagnosis Murder). Sitting on both sides of the table, Abbott’s experience with pitching, and being pitched to, informs this memorable, punchy guide.
The book opens the book with a 15 step checklist, which pretty much sums up the book that follows. Once you’ve read the book, the 15 steps can help you remember exactly what to do and what not to do (“forget to breathe”) in the most practical of ways. Although the book was designed primarily for those who have to pitch for film and television, but the tips are equally useful for pitching to an agent at a writing conference, or any situation where you have to sell a story. Most of the rest of this well-structured book looks at each of the fifteen steps in more depth. Some of these steps are fairly obvious, like go to the bathroom first, and greet each person in the room by name, but Abbott add a great deal of pith to each concept by including a range of anecdotes, some of which are sad and some funny, and a wealth of hints from her own considerable experience to help you stand out.
The heart of the book is Chapter 10, which outlines the substance of the pitch in five steps which sound easier than they undoubtedly are, and provides examples as well as an excellent secret (which I‘m afraid I‘m going to reveal):
See if you can get the executive to say “yes” to something early on in the pitch. Something like, “You know how people look forward every year to their vacation.” (Who wouldn’t say “yes” to that? Just make sure it ties in to your pitch.) It’s just a hunch of mine, but I think once they’re saying “yes” to anything, it’ll be easier for them to say “yes” to buying the story. Try it! I think you’ll see I’m right. (73)
The book is full of simple, but potentially crucial tips like that. There are also brief sections on ways of finding out exactly what market your pitching to, and any industry norms, along with a list of critical resources. Written in casual conversational tone designed specifically to take the mystery out of pitching, this is a very useful book, and one which will pay off the small cost of its purchase the first time you have to pitch a story. If you have to pitch often, this is a book you’ll refer to regularly, and never again, forget to go to the toilet before entering the room.