Okay, I’m cheating. I have a non-gay novel which is up to fourth draft and is not suitable for my current publisher. It doesn’t mean I haven’t started another story that would be suitable, it’s just that I have a manuscript without a gay main character.
So I signed myself on for Literary Speed Dating – a chance to pitch my novel in three minutes to potential publishers and agents.
There had to be at least eighty of us, all with a mission to infiltrate the minds of the representatives with our fresh ideas. And as I practised my pitch for the hundredth time, I decided to cut two sentences moments before my first recital. I had doubts it was too long, and put myself at ease before pitching to an ebook company. It’s frightening what last minute nerves do to you.
I recited on fast forward. I watched the rep try to follow my pitch and at one stage I gave his ears a momentary rest as I had to recall where I was going after the two lines I’d cut. He was positive and cheerful, and as he did with many on the day, asked for three chapters and a synopsis. Fingers crossed.
Next was the agent! She seemed friendlier than she looked, and even though she was not interested in my novel, she pointed me in the right direction. She told me to see the publisher who was taking biographical ideas at the next table.
You see, there is one publisher I’m interested in approaching who doesn’t take unsolicited manuscripts. The publisher at the next table was owned by that same company. I received good advice on how to sneak my work through the back door.
There was plenty of waiting time to talk to other writers and find what they were passionate about. I often remarked on how the reps encapsulated the physical embodiment of their individual publishing houses. The ebook company guy wore a tee-shirt. A well dressed woman represented a the respected larger firm. And the agent wore a no-nonsense face.
Image by Tookapic, courtesy of Pixelbay
Last I lined up for a Romance publisher – kind of. The official print out we were given listed lots of genres this particular representative was interested in, but as I waited, another writer advised me that she made it to the front of the line only to be told that Chic Lit was all this woman was on the look out for. So I switched to a poetry rep.
No, I don’t write poetry, but two authors really recommended this representative as she was old, wise and had been in the publishing industry for decades. I sat. I pitched. I listened – really listened!
Overall, this was a great experience. If you get the chance, do it. Your pitching skills will benefit.