Surviving the Pitch Room!

writersconferences1I’m going to talk to you today about that all-mighty pitch room. Actually, I should probably call it the prep-for-the-pitch room. It’s the room you gather in order to register and wait for your pitch appointment. If you’re pitching for the first time, or maybe you’ve pitched before but still a little unsure, here are some tips for survival. A few Do’s and Don’ts.

 
DO talk to people/DON’T always take their advice.
If you like to talk to people and talking calms your nerves, than this can be a great place to do that. However, be careful what you talk about. I’ve seen this happen many, many, times. You’re sitting around the pitch room, a nervous wreck, reciting your pitch over and over in your head, when someone starts a conversation with you. It goes a little like this:
“Hi, I’m Carol.”
“Hi, I’m Lori.”
“Are you pitching today?”
“Yes.”
“Practice on me. Let me hear it.”
You nervously give her your pitch. She gets a fearful look in her eyes and starts shaking her head back and forth . . .then she proceeds to freak you *the blank* out.
“Oh no, that’s all wrong! You need to say this, or drop that, or add this. You should say this instead.”
DON’T LISTEN! At this point, it’s too late to rework your entire pitch. This kind of late advice will only make you crazy. We both know you’ve worked hours on that pitch. You’ve rehearsed it with your fellow writers (that you trust) and tweaked it to the best it can be. Don’t let someone you’ve just met, make you second-guess yourself. MAYBE you’ll luck out and they’ll give you something productive, but as for me, I make it a habit to never discuss my pitch with anyone in the pitch room.

 
DO be kind and generous/ DON’T obligate yourself to do something that can screw you up.
You’re in the pitch room when someone you’ve been chatting with, gets called in line for her pitch. She looks at you with pleading eyes. “Hey, do you mind watching my things?” You glance down and see a bag full of important stuff. Laptop, binders, purse, cell, whatever she could cram in her bag. She’s put you on the spot! You want to be nice and help out your fellow writer, but before you say yes, think about it first. If you’re just sitting around waiting on a friend, and you don’t mind, then sure, be nice. However, keep these things in mind. Is it almost time for your own pitch? Are you waiting for a cancellation with your favorite editor whom you weren’t able to get an appointment with originally? If yes, then remember, they can call your name at ANY time. Don’t miss the opportunity for an extra pitch because you’re babysitting someone else’s things. Besides, you’re at conference. Editors and agents are expecting people to be toting their things. She can take it with her. They don’t mind.

 
DO be compassionate and friendly/ DON’T mess with someone’s Mojo!
I had a friend who almost didn’t make it to conference one year because of some personal issues that came up unexpectedly. However, she put on her brave face and attended anyway. She was waiting in the ‘your next’ chair in the pitch room, and I could see her from a distance. Her lips moved with her words as she practiced her pitch to herself. It was obvious; she was getting in the zone. Then I saw a fellow writer (who was just being friendly and concerned for her) go up to my friend and tell her how sorry she was that she was going through these awful personal things. My friend’s brave face disappeared and was quickly replaced with “my life is falling apart, what made me think I could come here and pitch,” face. Though the lady was just trying to be nice, there is certainly a place for that, and the pitch room isn’t it.
Remember this: The pitch room is not the place for bringing up bad, sad or disturbing things. Keep it light and positive.

 
DO dress nice/ DON’T wear your Walmart-grocery-shopping outfit.
This is a business. It’s a job interview. Look nice. Wear dressy-casual or business attire. I’m not saying you need to walk in there wearing a business suit-carrying a briefcase, but don’t wear your booty shorts and a tank top either. They are looking for the whole package. A package they can market.

 
My last tip is this:
DO pitch/ DON’T stress yourself out about it.
Stay calm. Editors and Agents are just people. They are looking for you as much as you are looking for them. I’ve gone in there and totally blown my pitch and still gotten a request. The important thing is to get that precious chair-time in front of them. Take advantage of the opportunity available at conferences to tell them your story. They could take you places you’ve never dreamed.

 
Any pitch-room-survival tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them. I hope I see you in Atlanta next week. If you need any last-minute advice once you’re at the conference, come find one of the Badgirlz. We’ll help you out. 🙂
Remember to Dream Big!
Lori

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