Recently, I had an opportunity to work with an experienced artist (and Artist Trust staff member) on my pitch…and I just can’t help but gush about the little pointers that emerged during our conversation!
That gosh darn pitch!
Q: It’s 2pm and I’m at Cafe Luna…do I know where my children are?
A: Yup…at home finishing math work and doing chores to earn computer time…it will be a good afternoon for writing today!
Q: What books are on my ping pong table?
A: Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward – loving this book so much!
I’ve also drafted a “scripted dialogue” to show what I’m doing, and I would love to hear other people’s pitch tips!
I guess we’ll call these my “ah-ah!” moments…
(1) Leave them wanting more…
As in, say just enough, then stop. If they are interested, they’ll ask more questions…if not, they can get away gracefully. Never corner someone by going on and on and on about my work, in other words.
(2) Clearly answer one question at a time…
This is an adjunct to #1, in that if I try to squeeze too much into too few words…it’ll be muddled and probably fairly ineffective. Instead, clearly and succinctly explain one element…then stop. If they ask for more, then I’ve got permission to go into that area…then stop.
(3) NEVER GO NEGATIVE!
In other words, we want to make our conversation partner feel good about talking to us…uplifted, empowered, curious, upbeat…we don’t want to be a downer or bring down the mood of our conversation partner.
(4) Go for the ZING!
The most important thing we can do is create a ZING feeling in our listener, so that we stick in their mind later…or so that our listener wants to continue talking with us here and now. That’s where intuition probably comes into the equation. Another Author? Maybe they would love to hear something we admired about their work? An agent who we know has an environmentalism bent? Mention something eco-oriented about our latest project. Etc.
Casual Acquaintance @ Cafe Luna
Susan: Hey March! Whatcha working on?
Me: I’m working on my novel.
Susan: Really? I didn’t know you were writing a book.
Me: Yeah. I’ve just started the rewrite process, actually.
Susan: What’s it about?
Me: Well, I’m writing a 4-book series designed to leave my readers with an unbreakable belief that their participation in social and global issues matters every day of their life…and the construct I’m using is to overlay a paranormal ghost world on top of the real world of 2009.
Susan: Really? A 4-book series? Wow…how far along are you?
Me: My first novel, The Ghost Lords, will be ready for submission by September and I hope to find the right agent for my work before the end of the year.
Susan: Wow. How long does it take to write a book? I mean, that sounds huge to me.
Me: Times can definitely vary. This is my first completed manuscript, and it took me two years. But some books are written in as little as three months. Book two will probably take a year, now that I know more about my process.
Susan: What is the genre? You said paranormal…but is that all?
Me: Some call my genre urban fantasy, which means fantasy blended with reality, but I’ve definitely got some paranormal eco-fiction going on and I’m also aiming for the older YA spectrum. I want to reach full-blown teens and adults.
Susan: Well, good luck. That’s quite a goal.
Me: Thanks! It’s been a lot of fun so far. I’ve got a blog, titled Inspiring Social Change Through Fiction, if you’d like to know more…including when the book will come out! (Offer her my card)
After drafting this script, I ended up in this exact situation twice in one day…and following this script style felt a TON better than when I used to try to tell people WAY too much! Instead of feeling tongue-tied, it felt natural and confident. Hope this is helpful…and soon, I’ll have a script that I could use at a more professional event.
Don’t miss my previous authors! Archived here: www.voiceofvashon.org/prose-poetry-and-purpose