I’ve been asked by my chapter to do a little talk on pitching next month. I said yes because apparently I have a weakness for teaching. I really do.
Am, I a pitching expert? No way! But I’m a very good student and I’ve studied up. As a naturally shy person who had to force myself to be able to speak publicly, I know if I can suck it up and appear confident, then anyone can.
I’ve pitched a handful of times and I’ve been reading up on pitching all over the agent/editor blogosphere to prepare. Plus, I’ve had the privilege of attending “Itching to Pitch” by fellow romance author D’Anne Avner twice. I think she does a great job of focusing on all the aspects of a pitch — not just what you say but how you present yourself.
I’m thinking the crux of my coffee talk is going to be this: According to Michael Hague, the biggest mistake authors make when trying to pitch is to try to tell their whole story.
Don’t think of it as a pitch. Think of it as a job interview with your story as your calling card. And — if it empowers you at all, consider that you can be the interviewer as much as the interviewee. 🙂
I know I’m supposed to put myself out there at a conference and make contacts, but I suck at networking. I’m completely shy and weird and it takes me a long time to become comfortable with people. Still, I had a blast at the New England Chapter’s RWA conference. I even managed to stick my head out of my shell a couple of times to discover (once again) that romance authors really are some of the most warm and welcoming people around.
This was my first writer’s conference outside of nationals and I will definitely make a point of going again next year! I really need to bring a camera and take more pictures.
- I sat at the same table as historical author Terri Brisbin for dinner on Friday so I got to thank her personally for the Golden Heart ® call and congratulate her on her Rita ® nomination.
- Met up with some Romance Divas with the biggest hearts in the world. I was only able to capture two of them on my camera phone, but you can tell what lovely people they are by their smiles.
Divas Gwen Hayes and Chrissy Olinger
- Danced the night away with a bunch of women I’d never met.
- I pitched to an agent and received a request for a partial. But more important than that, I received great feedback on the marketability of Butterfly Swords. She told me point blank that it was going to be tough and she’d have to be completely wowed by the writing for me to have a ghost of a chance. And you know, I appreciated that and wouldn’t expect any less!
- Lisa Gardner’s workshop on “Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis” is even better in person than online. Even though I’ve read and re-read her online materials so many times, this workshop helped organize what I knew or thought I knew.
- avoid “anti-hooks” in a query letter — controversial topics that may immediately turn agents/editors off
- In a query, focus on marketable elements
- In a synopsis, don’t feel the need to explain the story through plot elements. Instead, the gold standard is to focus on what will make the editor fall in love with your characters.
- Jessica Faust’s workshop “Hooking Them In” is a gem. She focuses in on the essentials of a pitch or a blurb with a keep it simple approach.
- The blurb should contain what sets your story apart and should go outside the romance because the romance is a given.
- Stick to heroine, hero & conflict just like a shortened version of a back cover blurb.
- She took a couple of sample pitches and told us what worked and what didn’t. It really gave an idea of what editors/agents were looking for in a pitch.