Monday, September 28, 2009

Practice Your Pitch In Unexpected Places

Last week I was on vacation with my husband and his family in the Catskills. The trip was very nice, and I had a lovely time. And there are some places that are just too scenic not to be inspiring. I love mountains. Mountains are my favorite places to vacation. (Other than cruise ships, that is.)

But I'm back from vacation and Moonlight & Magnolias is only a few days away. And I have plans to pitch my current urban fantasy project there. I've been polishing my manuscript and fine-tuning my pitch for weeks. And this past week, I got some unexpected practice.

This is the first time since I started writing full-time that I've been introduced to a large number of people. Invariably, when you are plunked down in a small talk situation, people ask what you do for a living. And for the first time, I decided to answer the question with "novelist". I might not have had anything published yet, but writing novels is what I do after all.

This, of course, led to that terrifying question "so, what do you write?" I've posted before about the benefits of contests like TwitchWeek for coming up with the one-line answer to this question. But sometimes you have more time than that to talk, and the dilemma becomes how much information is too much. You never want to tell someone interested in your book "it's complicated" or "it's a long story" or "it's hard to explain". At the same time, you don't want to launch into one of those boring, long-winded, why-don't-we-just-sit-down-and-I-can-recite-you-my-entire-manuscript-verbatim explanations.

And then my opportunistic side took over: What a perfect opportunity to try out that two-minute agent pitch I'd been working on!

After all, there was no pressure here. These people were just random people I met at a vacation resort. The odds were pretty slim that they were in any way involved in the publishing industry. But if I could take people with only a fleeting, polite curiosity and get them really fascinated in under two minutes, how much better prepared would I be for someone who started out interested?

Several people glazed over and zoned out well before my pitch was done. But not everyone. And by the end of the week, I was much more comfortable with talking about my book.


Demon Hunter said...

Great story! :-D It's always great to practice your pitch. I get that question all the time. ;-)

haricot vert said...

Very cool! I'm glad you got a chance to do pitch training. :)