pitching one's work

Pitch Perfect. Or Not.

This weekend I traveled to the UK to Newcastle for a pitching workshop.  Not throwing a baseball — which, I dare say I probably would have been better at — but how to pitch your novel to interested (or mildly intrigued) parties.  As one of the finalists in the Mslexia 2012 Children’s Novel Competition, I was invited by New Writing North to hone my pitching skills.  There were sixteen of us.  By the end of the day, fifteen of us did pretty darn well.

And then there was me.

The truth is, I’d prefer to tweeze my toe hairs than speak about my work — especially to someone in the book business. Agents, editors and publishers scare the hell out of me.

I can almost do e-mail.  But don’t hand me the phone.  And God forbid we have to talk face to face, because I will become mollusk-like: spineless and slippery and blah.

So this weekend when it was my turn to practice pitching before a friendly panel of experts, I could feel my palms sweat and my brain shut down.  Rather than pitch my finished novel, I decided to describe my work-in-progress.

Yeah. *Ahem.* Let’s just say it didn’t go well. The woman interviewing me ended the session saying, “I’m completely confused.”

Well, so was I.  But for a different reason.

Dammit, the book I’m writing is unique and fun and dark and moving all at the same time.  Yes, it’s complex.  But it’s not complicated.  So I want to know how I managed to make this adventurous, lively story sound utterly unfocused and dull.  How is it I can write the thing but I can’t explain it?

I’m not alone in this. Many writers would prefer to write a new novel than give a synopsis.  Many writers struggle at first when trying to describe their work.  Luckily, many get better and better at it. 

Moral is: I am far from pitch perfect.  But in the words of a fellow writer from this weekend, I know I’ve got a “bloody good book!”   So until I’ve worked it out, my pitch is this:

Read it.  And let’s talk.
But, uh, preferably over e-mail? 

10 thoughts on “Pitch Perfect. Or Not.”

  1. Ugh. Pitching. Not my strength either. I've had some pitching sessions as well and they never went as I'd hopefully imagined them, me all smooth-tongued and brilliant…sigh…my solution to everything…keep writing:D

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  2. You sound just like me. I sure wish that publishers, editors and agents would actually interview me about my work. I can answer specific questions about my book (most of the time), but make me come up with something of the top of my head to describe it? Ha!
    Who ever decided that writers needed to speak out loud in front of other people should bound up and made to stare down a few sharks or something. 😉

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  3. Oh Katie! We're in the same boat! The mere thought of pitching mades me cringe and want to curl up in a ball with my thumb in my mouth. Ugh! I know my book and my characters so well, but when it comes down to pitching it I get amnesia. I don't know what it is.

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