What I should have known before I went:
- My goal. I went with the plan of showing my writing to some professionals but I should have had more awareness of what end result I was after.
- What pitch meant. I didn't know. I knew I was going to talk with someone about my book but I didn't realize that this is something you can prepare for and learn to do well.
- Suggestions for "dos and don'ts" at a conference. I was afraid to talk to anyone but there's actually a lot of information on how to mingle and connect with 'book people" that isn't just about your writing. This is a people business and connections are important.
- How to make a good impression. Obviously, I did okay but because I didn't think ahead about how I would do this, I spent the next four weeks wondering if I had.
So, what was it like?
The purpose of a blue pencil session is entirely different than a Pitch. It is a chance to get a professional to look at your work and give you some feedback. For me, Tanya was specific about what she enjoyed in my writing and I found this incredibly uplifting. It was like, "hey, maybe it was a good idea to come here." She was also helpful: she told me which story of the three I showed her to pitch first and shared her thoughts on why. She wished me luck and said something that I continue to hope will be true: she said she was certain that, one day, I would have a book. I would definitely recommend doing a blue pencil before a pitch as it is truly helpful to get professional feedback from someone who knows the industry.
I was feeling confident and happy when I waited for my pitch session. I thought it would be very much the same. It was not, at all. While Tanya's purpose was to give me feedback, Carly's was to decide if I had something that hooked her. From the second I shook her hand, it was a much quicker paced conversation. It was "what do you have and why do I want it?" I was flustered. What I had was stories and what I wanted was for her to tell me nice things like Tanya had done. Had I been better prepared and known what an agent's objective is at these conferences, I would have had a better understanding of how they worked. My ten minutes zipped by with me quickly trying to sum up the stories I had to offer her and her saying, "no" or "hmmm". In the end, she gave me a card and said I could send her The Princess and the please and Ben's Bad Day. At the time, I had no idea that meant that my writing had made a good impression. Now, I know that they don't ask you to send something that hasn't caught their attention.
So how did it end? Not that the journey is over but what was the result of going and putting my writing out there for others to read? While you may think you know what I will write in next week's third and final blog in this series, I can promise you, you do not. Even I did not know how this particular journey would end until this week. Where am now in my journey? What's it like to get the phone call from an agent who wants to represent your work? How can you prepare for that phone call? You'll have to come back next week and read the third in this three part series to find out!