I know there’s been a lot of blogs lately concerning conference: What to wear, how to pitch, how to make the best of your conference, and so on. So if you’ve reached your conference topic limit, please bear with me. I have one more thing I want to share.
When I attended the Moonlight and Magnolia conference a couple of weeks past, I spent some time in the pitching prep room. In fact I lingered so much that I’m surprised they didn’t charge me rent. I was either there for an appointment or supporting a friend that was waiting for an appointment, but trust me when I say, I was there A LOT.
Of course I used this time wisely. If someone didn’t show for their appointment and the volunteer person asked if anyone wanted to pitch, I always raised my hand. This worked out well, because I was able to pitch to a couple of editors and agents that I wasn’t originally scheduled for. I had studied the editors and agents beforehand so I knew who was looking for what. I’d recited my hook and my pitch so many times in my head that I knew it by heart. In fact I felt quite confident that I was fully prepared. I was so WRONG!
I went in to pitch my new book and things were going rather smoothly. I was relieved and excited when the editor I was pitching showed an interest. She seemed to like the premise of my new manuscript and I felt all was going well. Then it happened. After we bounced questions and answers back and forth, she asked me, “Do you have anything else?” Yes, I said with pride. I have two other books. (I didn’t mention the desk drawer book) Then she uttered four little words and I realized I wasn’t quite as prepared as I thought I was, “Pitch them to me.”
I sat there with a blank stare, trying desperately not to let my mouth fall open in unprepared distress. This is what I wanted to say, but of course, I didn’t “Pitch them to you! I didn’t sleep a wink last night memorizing the pitch I just presented. I have an answer to any question you could possibly come up with on that book and now you want me to do what? Pitch the other two.”
I searched down deep for a morsel of my past pitches. I had pitched these books before, why was I drawing a complete blank? There must be something. Luckily after a few awkward moments of deafening silence, I was able to retrieve a little information for each one. Even though she responded well, I will always believe that my add-on pitches will go down in pitch history as the worst ever. But, at least I had something to give her when she asked.
With all the practicing and preparing I had done for the pitch I had forgotten that it’s not just about one book. It’s about a lot of books, hopefully.
I heard those four little words a lot that day. Pitch them to me. And I did. The editors and agents wanted to be assured that I wasn’t a “one book wonder,” like a hip-hop song from the eighties. They want to take on writers they can share long lasting careers with. So if you are pitching your book and the person you are pitching decides to ask you, “Do you have anything else?” What’s your answer going to be? If it’s “no,” then get to work. Get your submissions for this book out and while you wait for a response, start that next book.
You may be screaming to your computer, “Easy for you to say! Do you know how long it took me to write this one?” I understand completely. But I’m a firm believer that if you can come up with one great story, you can do it again, and again, and again.
In the future I will always go into a pitch prepared to pitch everything I’ve got. I will not be caught off guard next time if they ask, “Do you have anything else?” Do you? I would love to hear about it.
Don’t forget to dream big!