Pitching 101

Dear Writers: 

Here’s the text of a talk on how to pitch that I gave at this year’s Chuckanut Writers Conference in Western Washington.

(Source: tumblr via mademoisellearielle, via oddinclinations)

(Source: tumblr via mademoisellearielle, via oddinclinations)

I. What is pitching?

Pitching a project is not a singular effort. It’s an entire program that you create to develop a project and curate it from conception to publication—and then continue on to pitch to your reading audience. From the time you first decide to dedicate yourself to a project through the lifetime of the project, you will be pitching it.

The first person you have to pitch is yourself. Life is busy and there are many ways you can spend your time and many ways you can spend your writing time. When you decide to devote a significant amount of time to one project, you are choosing to make it a priority, likely setting aside or postponing other things you could be working on.

You make this choice because you believe wholeheartedly in the project. Ask yourself why you want to do this project and why you think it has viability in the marketplace. You need to have a clear grasp of that answer—if you don’t, then you haven’t evaluated carefully enough.

Further, you need to be able to articulate that reason in one or two sentences (not run-ons!). So doing will become the basis for shaping your vision of what the project will be and will function as part of the map for developing this vision to its fullest potential. And, those one or two lines can be the genesis of the pitch you later deliver to potential agents, publishers, and audiences.

Tip #1: Give yourself the task of writing in one or two lines your reasons for doing this project. It will help you reconnect with your original inspiration and excitement about the project. Remind yourself of these reasons every time you go to pitch.

Another way to say this is to tell the story of the project. Be able to describe succinctly how it came to be and why you believe in it. Let that build your confidence as you approach the agent or editor. Also, do not be surprised if the agents asks you that very question—What is the story of your project? It’s one of the first questions my agent asked upon signing me. Continue reading

Just Like Brand New

Dear Writers,

At the monthly writing practice I attend, we blindly draw prompts written by each other as we arrive, with the option to follow the prompt or not. This time I decided to try to weave each prompt into the same piece.

It meant that what started out as a true memory took a turn into fiction and then back into true memory.

shoe aisleIt was an interesting serial exercise to try for myself, especially as the prompts were so fun and surprising, accidentally seeming to relate to one another and then coming out of left field.

I found it funny that the prompt that pushed my piece toward fiction was actually the prompt I wrote, which was a quote from something someone said right before practice started. BTW, the pre-practice conversation I overheard about astrology and yes, potentially female centaurs, was story-worthy itself.

Here’s the prompts:

I remember . . .

I don’t remember . . .

If the centaur is female, then I take it in a different way . . . .

What was the question? . . .

Here’s what I wrote:

I remember getting in the car, where I always got the front sick on account of getting sick a lot, which meant my older sister would lean in between the bucket seats and talk a little louder to be heard. We never wore seatbelts in those days. I don’t know if our old cars even had them. So big sissy would stick most of herself into the front of the car and carry on a conversation with my mom that I wasn’t a part of because I was never happy about where we were going.

furniture Continue reading