Pitching, a First Time
I am no longer a pitch virgin. On Saturday at the Houston Writers Guild April Conference, I had my first experience with a professional agent. And it was good.
When I registered for the conference, Amy Boggs was the first agent on the list. As an agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency, I found it easy to stalk…errrr, research Ms. Boggs. I was delighted to discover she loved everything SFF and represented adult, YA, and MG. (Science fiction/fantasy, young adult, and middle grade for those of you still feeling your way. I get it.) I happen to have a MG fantasy eager to find a home. I signed up for a session before I paid for the rest of the conference.
For a couple weeks, I honed the elevator pitch:
“An innkeeper’s daughter is swept away from the life she loves by a rare baby dragon desperate for her protection. The two must make it to the Sanctuary before the delusional king, and would-be dragon rider, captures the hatchling to bend to his will.”
Pretty good, right?
I memorized the two sentences and practiced the intonation necessary to sell the words. Friday at the conference I rehearsed the pitch with a couple fellow writers who were to see Ms. Boggs as well. I failed at reciting the memorized speech when I looked into anyone’s eyes.
WHAT? It’s not like I’m shy. The remember-things part of my brain froze as soon as I made eye contact. I practiced in front of the mirror and found I could reset the mechanism if I stared at the forehead instead. Silliness.
Saturday morning, I could not sleep. Nerves gnawed my stomach. The words ran through my brain over and over and over again like a mantra. I was so grateful my appointment was at 0940. I don’t think I could have lasted the entire day sane.
I sat down in front of Ms. Boggs who shook my hand and smiled invitingly. Like the professional she is, Ms. Boggs asked me how the conference was going for me. She opened the conversation with something I could talk about and feel comfortable. I don’t know how other agents approach a meeting, this being my first, but hats off to Ms. Boggs.
I spewed my two sentences and froze as I realized I had nothing else to say. Luckily, Ms. Boggs saved me again and asked clarifying questions about the story.
She loved the concept and requested 50 pages. Woot! I left the room elated and relieved and shook up as the adrenaline left my body.
I’m working on the query letter now, though I’m not horribly stressed over that because I know she’s going to read the pages. I need to change the adult king to a 14 year old (that age fits his temperament better). Then off the work goes!
I cannot recommend joining local writing communities enough! Without NaNoWriMo, I would not know how to shut off my inner editor to get the draft complete. Without Dragon Con Writers Workshop, I would not know how to act in a critique group to improve my work. Without the Houston Writers Guild, I would not have had the opportunity to speak with a literary agent. Find your people and introduce yourself. You won’t regret it!
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