By Sunday morning I was dead weight. So tired. I changed my train to an earlier one and decided to skip the follow up workshop (what more could there be to say after the process?). This all ended up working out beautifully. My last pitch was with Emily Haynes from Penguin, who was very engaged - she leaned across the table and looked at me the whole time (a little unnerving, but Dana Isaacson had done the same and liked the book, so I tried to be encouraged). She had some good tips specific to my pitch, but I didn't feel a connection with her. Except for Jackie Canter, the women editors and I had not bonded. Ah well!
After everyone had pitched, we had a quick meeting, promised to meet 'online' and dispersed. It's bittersweet, of course, to say goodbye after such an intense experience. Like a four-day therapy group where you purge all your secrets and then have to go home and maybe never see people again. Four of us have already formed a Yahoo Group and are emailing like mad.
Weird train ride home - a woman behind me had clearly also been at the pitchfest, because she was on her cell telling someone she'd been the star of her group, that her pitch had been perfect from the first day on, etc., etc. Ick. Glad she wasn't in my group. Another woman two rows up had a major fight with her boyfriend from NYC to Trenton, NJ and wasn't censoring herself. Lots of expletives. I think most of us were ready to kill her. When she got up I saw that she was in her early twenties. Must suck to be that angry and unhappy at that age. I don't think I was - confused, but not angry!
Here it is - step by step:
When meeting an editor or agent you want to give them the following information:
1) YOUR NAME.
2) PLATFORM. (your credentials - 'creds'). Do you teach? Where? Where have you published? Give your MFA if it is in creative writing. If you write for a newspaper or magazine, or have a job in writing, let them know that. Ditto if you work in radio. Things like that. Pick 3-4 things max. Don't overwhelm them.
3) TITLE AND GENRE. Mine was contemporary women's fiction. There's historical, romance, mystery/thriller, psychological suspense, for example.
4) COMPARABLES ('comps'). Who do you write like? Give author and book. Minimum of 2.
5) YOUR PITCH. 250 words max. Don't give lots of details, think more broadly. Have cliffhangers (but also be able to summarize the end of your story quickly should they ask). See the post before 'Day One' for the exact 'how to' of writing the pitch. REPEAT THE NAME OF YOUR NOVEL BEFORE YOU READ OR VERBALLY GIVE THE PITCH.
6) LOG LINE. This is the summary of your book in one sentence. If you can do it in 25-30 words, so much the better. No more than 1 1/2 average sentences. ONLY GIVE THIS IF THEY ASK. Just have it ready. You may not get more than a minute to interest them. If there's no time to give the whole pitch as I've laid it out here - give the log line.
At the most, your pitch should take 3-4 minutes. Any longer and his/her eyes will glaze over and you've lost them.
If you're interested in going to one of these conferences (there's one in Harper's Ferry in June and one in NYC in September), here's the link: http://www.webdelsol.com/Algonkian/