Yesterday, I was thinking of my first, in-person manuscript pitch. Sad, sad, sad, people.
It took place at a writing conference last year, and I paid $25.00 for a ten minute slot. I worried and worried about selling my story. I practiced in the mirror, meditated, and did good deeds for my neighbors hoping good karma would kick in. I visualized the pitch as a rare, perfect rose in a garden of daisies. (For the record, I like both roses and daisies equally. My preference was merely for effect.)
And? The big moment never happened.
I left my afternoon class at the conference and made a quick trip to the bathroom, mumbling a synopsis of my novel the entire time. Then, I arrived at the appointed pitch-spot. I quietly waited for the editor/industry insider and her current appointment to finish up. Hold on, I said to myself as I recognized the girl ahead of me. She had sat at my table at lunch a few hours earlier and pitched me her book the entire time. Didn't take a bite of the mediocre chicken salad, didn't ask anyone else about themselves. In fact, I'm not even sure I saw this woman breathe during the whole hour. Her detailed description led me through every nuance of her story, and although I found our conversation a little overwhelming, I had to give her some credit. She showed genuine enthusiasm for her work.
The scheduled time for my pitch came and went. It was uncomfortable waiting for the girl in the pitching chair to finish. One minute went by, and then two. Five minutes passed. I tried to make eye contact with the editor, but she kept looking at her watch and the floor. With 2 minutes to spare, my predecessor finally left, and I took the seat. The next writer was already waiting behind me for her turn. Nervous and slightly sick, I made eye contact with my literary lifeline and smiled. Then, I fit my entire story into 60 seconds. Obviously, since I'm still unpublished, it wasn't effective. Like I said, sad, sad, sad.
This debacle did teach me something. I learned that I need to grow a spine, and stand up for myself and my story. Nobody loves it like I do, and it's my job to pitch it well. Self-confidence. Awareness of my tale's unique qualities. Concise communication from my head to another's ear.
It'll come with time and practice. Just like every other good thing in life. To borrow and alter a phrase from AC/DC . . .
To those who are about to pitch, I salute you.
How have your pitches gone? Tell me about the agony and the ecstasy.