Pitching and Moaning

I leave tonight for Moonlight & Magnolias put on by the Georgia Romance Writers.  If you’ve not attended, this conference is great! This will be my second time going. This year has a special line up: Julia Quinn will be the keynote speaker. There will also be three pitch appointments for me: two with editors and one with an agent.

Am I nervous? Hell yes, but I was given a piece of advice from Kieran Kramer in the form of a book recommendation: Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds by Michael Hauge.  I have his earlier book on writing. It was fabulous. I’ve also had the opportunity to here him present at RWA 2011. It was a light bulb moment for me, but that’s a whole other blog. If you want more information on Mr. Hauge click here.

Michael Hauge starts by breaking down your story into ten key elements: hero, empathy, setup, opportunity, outer motivation, conflict, character arc, issues, antecedents and passion.  Most of us get the first seven. They are the key elements in every story we write. Issues, antecedents, and passion caught me by surprise.

Issues relates to theme or the deeper message your story explores. While all our stories have a theme, not ever story will have a deeper, global message it explores. I’m not sure mine does.  I’m still thinking about this one.

Antecedents relates to what else is like your story. Interestingly enough, this one trips me up. My story is different. Really? Probably not.  I had to find something similar in tone to identify with. This is supposed to get your editor or agent an idea if they can sell your voice. I’m thinking my voice is similar to those who write humorous regencies. I have lots of banter and funny situations my heroine trips through.

Finally, there is passion.  I can identify with this. (Yeah I know where your  mind is going). This is passion about your work — why you spend every spare moment writing this story. What about these characters keeps you coming back to the page again? What inspired you to write this book at this time?

For myself, I had to write this book. The voices in my head were not letting me go until I got the story on the page. I can’t say that to an editor or agent. A psychologist? Maybe.  Interestingly enough there were several things I was passionate about with this story: familial issues and insecurity struck close to home for me. I fell in love with the location of the story. The two together was this book.

Hauge goes on to have you jot those things down and then pick the strongest ones.  Focus on those and on getting the attention of who you are talking to. Easier said than done. He also suggests practicing so much, you don’t need the note cards. I’ve been practicing during rush hour in my car. Yeah I’m that girl.  Others are putting on mascara or reading the paper while we wait. I’m talking to my imaginary agent sitting in the passenger side.

So am I ready? I hope so. One thing for sure, there really isn’t any need to be nervous. As writers, we deal with rejection a lot.  What’s the worse that can happen? They say no. Well, there are other editors and other agents to try next.  I’m not going to put pressure on myself either. I’m just going to be me, and talk about my story and why I had to tell it with passion and enthusiasm.  I’ll talk about my career as a writer and why I’m in this for the long haul.  If I do this well, the agent/editor has a need for this story, and the stars align, then great. If not, it’s been just part of the path I have to take to get published.

All pitching and moaning aside, I’m really looking forward to Julia Quinn’s keynote and dialogue session.  What advice do you have for conquering nerves and pitching your work?



15 thoughts on “Pitching and Moaning

  1. I’m thrilled Michael’s book worked for you! Yes, he totally changed my pitching tactics. After reading him, I always started with explaining what moved me to write this particular story. And it made all the difference! I was no longer nervous!

    I hope y’all have a wonderful M & M conference. That’s where the pitch for my first novel that sold was born–right there in the bar.

    Amy, great post, and thanks for including me!!! I’m honored to spread the word about Michael’s book, and I LOVE when my fellow writers find success in the publishing world. This is a tough business. We need to stick together!!


  2. Isn’t Kieran the best?! At the annual Romance Writers of America confrence in California this past July, she gave me some GREAT pitching advice! Besides letting me practice on her, which was no picnic I’m quite sure, she said that I needed to ask myself ONE question and I would be okay.
    “Why did I write this book?”
    Once I asked myself that question, I completely relaxed. Because, although I couldn’t summarize my pitch without stuttering and stalling out, I freaking loved that book. And if I thought about WHY I wrote it, I had my starting point.
    “I wrote this book because I stumbled across an article during research for another book, and I KNEW I had to write this story.”
    For some reason, that was the key for me. I went on to pitch to two agents who both requested, one full and one partial. I also somehow got put with an agent who only reps YA, but she let me pitch anyway to practice (See? Most agents are super nice, and HUMAN! Lol…). Anyway, she liked my pitch enough to tell me to find her boss and pitch to HER, who then requested a full.
    I would say my most vault me advice is: RELAX. If you go in all tense and stressed, your delivery will be wooden and you can’t express your love for your project. If you show how much you love your work, and how you understand the story and characters, people will be caught by your enthusiasm. Just chill, and have fun!
    Good luck to all pitching this weekend! 🙂

  3. Good luck with your pitch sessions Amy and I hope you have a wonderful time at the conference this weekend!

    This was a really great post and you gave a lot of valuable advice-advice I intend to take when I get up the courage to pitch at RWA next year. 🙂

    I think I can only echo the advice already given-prepare as much as you can, relax, and let your enthusiasm for your work show through.

  4. Great post and I’m going to check out Michael’s book. Don’t have any advice for pitching because I haven’t had the opportunity to – yet – but if it’s anything like selling yourself as a Realtor to get a client – just let me say this. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, smile and pretend you’ve known the person all your life – keep eye contact – and don’t let ’em see you sweat! Have a great time and Good Luck!

    • Thanks Amy. I recommend his other books as well as his website. I heard him at RWA2011 and it was a real turning point for my writing. I learned so much in a very short time frame (2 hrs.)

      Good luck!


  5. Drat!! I’m so late to this. Sorry, Amy!!! But I know I’ve already heard that your first pitch went great. Woot!!!

    I’ve not read Michael Hague’s book on pitching but I’ve taken plenty of RWA courses on it. You’ve hit the nail on the head. The first pitch I ever had was with Christopher Keeslar, when he was at Dorchester. One of the first things he asked me was “Why did you write this book?”

    Editors and agents are just people like you and me. They WANT to find the next good book. They’re open to you and just as nervous about sitting across from strangers as we are. If you think about it like that, it really does take the nerve level down a notch. 😉

    Can’t wait to hear how your pitches went!!!

  6. Pingback: Teatime Romance Blog’s 2012 Year in Review | Teatime Romance

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