Pitch It!

So tomorrow is the day I’ve been preparing for most of this year–the Willamette Writers’ Conference begins! While I’m looking forward to the sessions and meeting with other writers, this year’s focus for me is the pitching.

There are three agents and one editor at the conference who deal with sci-fi, so I’ll be presenting my fresh and clean, nifty smelling novel to all four of them. This is an entirely new experience for me; I’ve sent stories and queries out a few times in the past with material I now realize wasn’t really there, but I’ve never pitched in person before.

I’ve done a lot of reading on different agent blogs, and gotten plenty of good advice. One of the biggest themes is keeping it somewhat casual and conversational. If you’re just going to show up and read a scripted synopsis, why are you doing it in person?

The carefully crafted script was where I started off, branching from a hook I wrote for Miss Snark’s crapometer last year. It was a decent place to begin for me, since it helped me to really nail down the flow and what elements were at the core of the story. But when I came to actually giving the “pitch” verbally to my wife, Amber, it fell utterly flat. It was almost painful to see how all those beautiful words I’d agonized over just didn’t work when they came out of my mouth.

Amber’s suggestion was to take that and turn it into a set of bullet points. It wasn’t too hard to carve it down to a first draft of those essentials since I’d been thinking about this for quite a while already. Then I ran off that and just talked. I won’t claim that it was an immediate success–it’s taken a week worth of practice, revising the bullets, reordering, pitching to people who haven’t read the story to find any incomprehensible gaps. But now I’m actually feeling pretty good. At first, everyone I pitched to had lots of things to suggest. The last few, though, that’s been trailing off.

Nerves will play a big part when it comes down to the actual event, but I’m as ready as I know how to be. Bring it on!