I don’t often get to be around other writers and I know my non-writer friends don’t really want to talk about character development for 2 hours and segue into werewolves and a teenage love triangle.
I don’t blame them! I don’t really want to talk about their jobs either for that length of time! But here… EVERYONE wants to talk about the made-up worlds we created/are creating. All the weirdos unite and I am SO glad my friend talked me into coming. And then talked me into pitching THE SHAPE OF A SOUTHERN WOMAN.
Before I go over the pitching session, I want to explain the preparation for those of you who are gearing up to query for the first time, first verbal pitch or just having to talk about your book in general.
Nobody is comfortable talking about their book and I would venture to guess, the people that are, are serial killers.
I spent 3 months writing this novel I pitched, so I know it well! But directly ask me what it’s about and I stutter and choke my way through a pathetic summary that ends in cold sweats and an “uhhmmmm” count of about 100. I am not the best at doing things without a specific goal in mind. I need a plan and a date to prepare for.
Of course I used Google, and went on forums. I had people read and give me feedback but you know what I never did? Ask for help from someone that COULD help me or at the very least, offer some insight.
Writing a story is one thing, but knowing how to wrap the 75,000 words into 1-2 sentences and have it be interesting enough for an agent (who sees THOUSANDS of them) to say “I want to see more!” is a whole other monster. It’s a LOT harder than it seems!
I also thought that asking for help, made me appear lazy, like I just didn’t want to do the work myself so I was having someone else do it for me. (Which is NOT the case). So, when a published author that I happened to meet through social media (check out her books Not Her Daughter and Because You’re Mine), offered to help me out… well at first I thought She’s saying she doesn’t mind helping, but probably does not want to be bothered by lil ol’ me when she has a million other things to do. So, I didn’t ask right away. I kept on researching and writing and trying on my own, to no avail. There’s only so much you can teach yourself, sometimes you really need someone who knows what they’re doing to look over your work and give feedback.
It was easy to avoid this until I signed up to go to DFW Con. Wasting time is one thing I cannot stand and if I was going to spend the money to go, have my husband wrangle the kids while I’m gone, have my friend ride with me on this 4-hour drive… I was going to make it worthwhile. I was going to pitch my book! And not only was I going to pitch it, I wanted to make sure I put my best possible effort into it!
First impressions can be EVERYTHING in this industry.
How do I ensure this goes as smoothly as possible? I go to that one person I knew who has been through this. And when I tell you this was the most uncomfortable thing for me to do… I’m not exaggerating. But, I set up a call, I went over my story and after an hour, I had an even better relationship with this author AND the beginnings of a decent pitch. I still didn’t have it DOWN, but I knew what she was getting at for me to work on. I spent the rest of that day, working on different ways to talk about my manuscript and we spoke again a couple days later where we really nailed down the key points.
I recorded myself on my phone over 100 times until I was happy with how I sounded and how I delivered the story.
And at 8:36am June 22, 2019… I went to my first writer’s conference and presented my first pitch, EVER.
And the agent asked for me to send her some pages to review.
I entered that session so nervous and worried she wouldn’t like ME or my story. I was afraid I’d sound robotic (and my voice was kind of going out, so that was fun) but somehow, she saw through all of my fears and gave me a shot. The confidence that 10-minute conversation gave me, helped me to ask another agent for a few moments of her time.
And hey, if she didn’t like it, it was great practice! That’s the whole point of going to a conference!
But, she did.
Both agents were very different in how they guided the time we had and that was such a fun experience and I learned a lot and am incredibly happy with the process. The classes at this conference were fun and interesting and the people you meet are talented beyond words! I strongly encourage any writer to attend a conference, especially the DFWCon.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have work to do. I need to fine tune my synopsis and submit the pages to each agent, and they have to actually like what I wrote! This was not a guarantee and I’m painfully aware of that, but this is farther than I have gotten before and that is a win! I am confident in my material and ready for this world and it better be ready for me!