Last weekend I went to my very first writing conference and I had my very first experience “Pitching” my book idea.
I thought I would share.
First off, I love the word “Pitch” used in this context. I like the idea of playing catch with someone I have never met. “Now, I’m going to throw this idea at you and you try to catch it, okay?” If they dodge left, step back, cover their face or let it fall pitifully to the ground, well, you know you’re in trouble.
Apparently there are pitch guidelines. Who knew? By the time I had already pitched my idea twice I encountered a friend who told me he had read up the night before on all the do’s and don’t’s of pitching.
Huh? This goes to show you how prepared I was…I never even thought to look!
Turns out one of the biggest things not to do is start your conversation with “Hi, I’m really nervous.” Which I had consistently pointed out to each agent I pitched. Oh, well. Live and learn.
If you have never done this before let me give you a rundown of how it works, or how it worked for me, at least.
First, you sit down with someone you don’t know and really want to impress. They look at you and you begin to wonder if your deodorant is going to hold or if the mouthwash you use ever worked at all.
You introduce yourself. If you can remember your name that’s a plus, if not, hopefully you wore your name tag for reference.
You remember not to say you are really nervous.
They are still staring. You get the impression they are working really hard at not jabbing you with a pen to make you start.
Invariably, you say, “My book is about…” I took a poll and that’s were everyone stops for a minute. What is the book about? And then you realize it’s such a lame idea. I mean, really, you are going to admit you wrote that? Really? This is of course, if you can even remember what it’s about.
Somehow you manage to spit it out. There! It’s done! You threw the ball and now you watch, in slow motion, to see what they do.
I really liked it when they asked me a question or two. To me it meant not only did they listen, but they were interested enough to be curious about something.
If you are lucky the agent will pull out a card and ask you to submit some of your work.
Just in case you were wondering, yes, I did get asked to submit. And I’m really excited!
My biggest tips to share…
Every single agent I met was nice, polite and helpful. This made the whole experience much easier. The impression I got was they understood how tough it can be and want to make it easier.
Gripping the underneath of the chair helps you not fall over when you are as nervous as I was.