Category Archives: Agent Pitches

What a Difference a Year Makes

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The 2013 Ozarks Romance Authors Conference was on Saturday. I was having a horrible hair day. I thought I’d lead with that, because in every other way, my day was so fantastic, I feel obnoxious even talking about it. Not that that’s going to stop me.

My day started bright and early as I set up my portable photo studio for author headshots. I made a new friend who helped carry my equipment and set up—thanks, Quillen! Every single person was on time and an absolute pleasure to work with. I photographed twenty-three people and only had to miss one program to do it. Woohoo!

Next on the agenda: my pitch session with Foreword Literary Agent Laurie McLean. If you read my last blog post, you know how my first pitch went at ORAcon 2012. Well, this year I was ready with a carefully honed and rehearsed spiel—and I didn’t need a word of it. Laurie was one of the final judges in the ORA Weta Nichols Writing Competition, and my novel, The Amulet of Isis, was a finalist in the YA category. That meant she’d already read the first twelve pages and knew she wanted to see more. She was so easy to talk to, the pitch was actually fun. Honestly, I don’t know how it could have gone better.

After that, I had about an hour before my next round of photo sessions, so I squeezed in Shawntelle Madison and Jeannie Lin’s packed program on world building. My head was spinning, but I tried to focus on the great information being presented. All of the programs were fantastic. Our conference chair, Cecily White, did an incredible job once again rounding up amazing speakers for us. I have lots of notes to go through!

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And then lunch. Yum. Seriously. My mouth is watering just thinking about that pecan pie.

For me, one of the highlights of the afternoon was the Query Letter Gong Show, where agents and editors read query letters looking for problems that would make them stop reading. It’s nerve-wracking and sometimes painful, but getting that kind of feedback can be invaluable, so of course I submitted my letter. It was the first one up. My voice shook as I read my text, but I made it to the end with no gong. Then Laurie said, “It wasn’t fair to start with this one, because it’s perfect!”

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After that, my day really didn’t need to get any better. But it did. As I mentioned, my novel was a finalist in the annual writing competition. I was convinced the best I could hope for was second place, but I was wrong. First place. I teared up.

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I could write pages about all the high points of the weekend—the things I learned, the great conversations with other writers, the huge turnout for the conference . . . . But I’m out of energy. And superlative adjectives.

Yes, my head is a little swollen after a day like that. But no worries, my friends, I have painfully blunt critique partners who will help shrink it back to size.

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A Pitch–and a Hit! (Sort Of)

The 2013 Ozarks Romance Authors convention is a week from tomorrow. Know what that means? Time to get ready for my agent pitch!

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Nothing to stress about, right? After all, I’ve pitched this book before. Well . . . sort of. Here’s what went down.

I walked into my first-ever pitch session with two pages of story notes clutched in my shaking hand. Notes for a story I’d only begun plotting in earnest two weeks before.

When I signed up, I assumed I would be pitching the contemporary romance I’d been working on for the past year. It still wasn’t finished, but the conference organizer assured me it was okay to practice pitch an unfinished novel just for the experience—as long as you’re upfront about it.

As the conference approached, I realized I would never finish this novel. It wasn’t the right project—or genre—for me. If it was going to be a practice pitch anyway, why not pitch the book I really wanted to write? Um, because I hadn’t even started it yet and only had a rough idea of the plot? Yeah, that little voice of reason inside your head can be annoying, can’t it? Ignore it. I did.

I hated feeling like I was wasting the agent’s time. Guilt and nervousness make a really unpleasant combination, by the way. But I ignored my roiling stomach and walked into the room. The agent stared back at me, disapproval radiating from her face as I explained this was a practice pitch for an unfinished novel, and that I’d been told that was okay.

“No. You don’t pitch a novel until it’s complete.”

Boom.

Now what?

I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

Finally, the agent sighed and said, “You’ve got ten minutes. You might as well talk.”

So I did. I’m not sure what I said, but I guess I stumbled through a semi-coherent version of the story, because at the end she told me it was right up her alley and to send it when it was ready. I actually got a manuscript request (a partial, anyway) out of that debacle.

Now I’m getting ready to pitch that story again for ORAcon 2013. I’m still working on revisions, but at least the manuscript is mostly complete this time.

What about you, my writer friends? Have you pitched to an editor or an agent? Are you getting ready to?