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?