Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pitching - Part Two

Most romance authors pitch for the first time at Nationals. I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend the National RWA Conference (next year, baby – Atlanta- hoo wee). Apparently you have to do this in person and the editor and agents are right there in person looking at you. So you better wear something nice and hopefully have a good hair day.

I figure there are some advantages to pitching online.

Advantages to pitching online:

No one can hear your knees knock, see your sweaty palms or smell the results of your sweating.

If you’re a writer, you might do better with writing than speaking.

Misspellings can be excused as typos.

You can wear your PJs and fluffy slippers and no one is the wiser.

Some disadvantages:

No one can see you smile, and some people have a wonderful smile.

No one can hear your lovely speaking voice (assuming you have one, ahem).

It’s hard to exude warmth from behind a computer screen.

Some authors are technologically challenged.

Thought you might like to see my 99 word pitch too, so here it is:

A runway model turned café owner is about to lose her home to foreclosure. She won’t accept charity and won’t sell the café, the only thing that’s ever been truly hers. A ski contest with a sizable cash prize could be the answer. And she won’t let the fact that she hasn’t skied in years stop her. The deputy sheriff is a new Christian and wants to make up for his bad boy, checkered past. But the woman who needs him the most won’t trust him, even though he could show her everything she needs to be truly happy.

I’m still a student of the pitch and the query. It’s an entirely different skill set. It’s clear that pitching is important – while we learn our craft, we’ve also got to learn a little bit about marketing. The “pitch” is that all important marketing tool – the “back of the book blurb” and if you've done it right, it may actually sell your book.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My First Pitch

In late June 2012 I was privileged to be one out of one hundred authors who pitched to Emily Rodmell, one of the editors of Harlequin’s Love Inspired Line. The event was titled, “Speed Dating with Editor Emily”.

Harlequin may be under fire lately, but in my experience no other publisher gives unpublished authors as many opportunities. The resources and education on the Harlequin Board are priceless, and they’re free.

In preparation for our online pitch with Emily, we were all treated to an online mini-class with author Winnie Griggs on how to refine our pitch down to 100 words. Winnie gracefully worked with each one of us. Another great resource, this is still up and available to anyone who wants to learn how to tighten their pitch. There is a bit of an art in this.

We were each assigned a time slot in which we would show up in the chat room online. Emily was in a separate chat room and we gathered in a separate room together, and each went into Emily’s chat room alone at our appointed time. We typed (or cut and paste) our 100 word pitch to Emily and she responded in one of four ways:

I'll cry if you don't send me your manuscript (requested full)

__I'd like to get to know your manuscript better (requested proposal)

__I'm not sure if there's a spark between your manuscript and me, but I'm willing to give it a chance to convince me (requested synopsis)

__There's just no connection between your manuscript and me (no request, but isn't it great to know the idea won't work before you spend time writing it?)

My answer was the requested synopsis. While I had hoped to be asked to send my proposal, I sent my synopsis off immediately and within two weeks heard back that she would like to see my proposal – the first three chapters. I took a few days to polish those and sent them off in mid-July. Part Two tomorrow ...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How the Romance Genre Picked Me

One of my critique partners is trying to decide what genre to write - since she reads and enjoys all of them! I started thinking about how I decided to write contemporary romance so I thought I would add my two cents.

This is probably not the best reason, but honestly I decided on romance because certain authors made it look "so easy". Prolific writers like Danielle Steele, and Debbie Macomber. I read their stuff, so incredibly popular and mainstream, and I started to think "I can do that."

Now when I would read the thriller/mystery/suspense genre (Lisa Gardner among my faves, who actually began in category romance) I would think: How do they come up with this stuff? I can't do that!

So I started with what was (cough, cough) "easiest" for me. And guess what? It hasn't been easy. But for me to dip my toe in suspense/mystery when my brain is already thinking "too hard" wasn't going to work for me. So I took the easy way out (still coughing here).

Now my family is after me to write a mystery. Why? I spend most of my TV time glued to true life crime shows like Dateline, 48 Hours, Investigators, and all the stuff I can find from the I.D. channel. I absolutely love it. It drives my family nuts. But I don't think I could write it!