Once upon a time, there were two writers. They wanted to be published novelists. One of the pair went to a local writers conference where they had something called “Pitch Appointments.” Now, Dear Reader, a “pitch appointment” can be a scary thing. After all, a fledgling published author must then “pitch” their novel or book idea to that rarest of beasts, an acquiring editor.
I know what you’re thinking, Dear Reader. Do people still pitch, with the proliferation of self-publishing? Yes, they do, even though the landscape has changed, and continues to change, at lightning speed. But our story takes place a few years ago, before self-publishing became big but after digital-first presses dominated the scene for sub-genre romance.
The fledgling published author signed up for a pitch appointment and then ran wee-wee-wee all the way back to her hotel room. After all, signing up for things is what gets people in trouble, isn’t it? It isn’t the safe little world, anymore. Now, people will know. The editor will know. Horrors.
People ask me, sometimes, how I got my first book published. “Luck,” I say, deadpan. They look taken aback, but I’m actually not kidding. My first pitch appointment was awful. I did everything wrong. “Have your elevator pitch down pat, and practice it, so you can deliver it on the fly.” Nope. Didn’t do that. “Know what you’re going to say going in.” Nope. Not that either. “Treat it like a professional appointment.” Um…
The kind-hearted editor asked me if I had any questions to start, or wanted to say anything.
“I’m terrified,” I blurted.
You know, you can feel it when you blush like a sun?
She was very gentle, and basically pitched my book for me by asking me questions. I’m a novelist, I often joke; I don’t know how to be brief. I rambled, and bumbled, and dawdled my way through my first pitch, ready to cry because I knew how abysmal it was.
To my utter shock, she requested a full. What that means is, in a pitch appointment, the editor will either say no thank you, because for whatever reason they’re not interested in your manuscript; they’ll request something called a partial, which typically is a synopsis of the full story and the first three chapters; or they’ll ask for the whole enchilada, meaning your finished book.
It’s considered verboten to pitch something that isn’t finished, in general.
And we weren’t done with it yet. We still had three chapters to go.
The moral of this story is, be as prepared as possible when you go into appointments like this. The advice to be prepared, to know what you’re going to say, and to have things as polished as possible is all excellent advice. But at the end of the day, follow your heart and don’t be afraid to give things a try. We got accepted by the house on a “Revise and Re-submit,” and it became our first novel, Burning Bright, now part of our popular Chicagoland Shifters series.
See? Sometimes, dreams really do come true. In spite of ourselves.
– E.E. Cummings
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