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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Pitching to Editors is not for the fainthearted

This past weekend (September 8-9), Marketing for Romance Writers* held a pitch session where authors could "chat" in person with the editor(s) of their choice.  Thirty eBook publishers participated and authors could sign up for one or more (up to three) editors from the list.

Next, the group held workshops that helped writers hone their selling skills for their six-minute interview with an editor.

A recommended pitch consisted of the following:
Logline: "a short (25 words or less) description of what your book is about. It should include the main character, what they want, why they can’t have it and the consequences if they can’t get what they want. It should allow the person reading it to immediately envision what the book is about. It should be the premise, not the plot. It should generate story questions, but not story confusion. It should get the person on the receiving end excited about the story." from Cindy Carroll on how to write a logline.  It's what you might answer when someone says, "Tell me what your book is about."
Blurb: A 100-150 word brief summary of your book, using the goal, motivation and conflict you included in your logline.

After you've given your pitch, it's the editor's turn to ask questions.

Though the process sounds easy, I probably got only 4 hours sleep the whole weekend.  However, I wasn't the only writer suffering from a flock of butterflies in the stomach.  The waiting is the worst.  You're told at the start where you are in the queue of authors presenting to the publisher, and you wait until you're told to go into the pitch room.  Once there you immediately begin copying and pasting the pitch you spent the last week polishing until it shined, while your fingers tremble and your mouse refuses to cooperate.  (It's amazing how quickly your typing can degenerate until it begins to look like a trained monkey is sitting at your keyboard.)

All the editors I chatted with were great.  They were very patient and understanding as to why I suddenly developed a typing stutter and forgot how to spell manuscript.

When your six minutes are up, you return to the common chat room where you bemoan your sudden stupidity and tell the others what, if anything, was requested by the editor.

As the title of this article suggests, pitching is not easy on the nerves, but I highly recommend it if you're a writer who wants to query your wip (work in progress) to an editor in person.  The sessions were open to both published and aspiring-to-be-published writers, so previous experience was not expected.  From the comments I've seen, the venture was extremely successful for authors and publishers alike, so MFRW is considering doing it again next year.

Hopefully, by then, my fingers will have learned to behave.

*(Note: if you write romance, like to share and learn, and don't belong to Marketing for Romance Writers, I suggest you join.  It's free, and this weekend (Saturday, September 15) Treva Harte (Editor-in-Chief for Loose Id) will present a short workshop on what to look for in a publishing contract. No legal advice will be given or offered.  What will be offered is a high-level look at what to expect in a contract and how to protect yourself. Terms will be explained. A Q&A period follows.  The workshop and Q&A are only open to MFRW members, but there is no cost to join.  Interested authors should go to and send in a request to join.  Currently there are over 1600 members.)

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