Guest blog post for Adventures in Children’s Publishing
(It’s not just a baseball term)
PITCH. As little as eight weeks ago, that word meant nothing to me except the throwing of a baseball.
Then I registered for a writers’ conference. My first. The registration form included a list of agents and editors, along with instructions to rank them by preference for a pitch appointment. I thought I understood what a pitch appointment was, but I was more excited about meeting new writing friends than I was about pitching. I researched each of the agents and gave my highest preference to those who repped Young Adult. I forgot about it as soon as I emailed my registration form.
Three days before the conference, I became friendly with another attendee via the conference’s email loop. She suggested we practice our pitches with each other the night before our appointments.
Why would anyone need to practice a pitch?
Maybe this pitching thing was a bigger deal than I thought.
So I did a little research on pitching. I learned I’d have ten minutes and three sentences to razzle-dazzle the agent and make her fall in love with my book. Writing-World.com said it could be the most important ten minutes of my life.
At that moment, PITCH became the most important word in my vocabulary. I spoke of little else during the next three days. I gave details and tips on my own blog about how I prepared, so I won’t bore you with a repeat. Instead, I’ll fast-forward to my pitch appointments.
I met with an editor first. After I gave my pitch, I paused and waited for her to ask me questions. She asked about my plot twists and the title of my manuscript. I easily navigated those questions.
The editor then asked about the motivation of my characters. I know my characters better than I know myself, but I stammered through my reply.
The editor’s eyes lit up when I mentioned I’d written the first draft of the sequel. I added that my beta readers are begging me to read it, but I don’t want to continue unless I find success with the first book. She confirmed my book could be the first in a series, and just when our ten minutes were up, she asked me to send her my synopsis and first 50 pages.
With one successful pitch under my belt, I oozed confidence for my second pitch later that afternoon. This pitch was with an agent, my #1 pick from the registration form. I gave my pitch, and the agent jumped in with dozens of questions. Many were the same as the editor’s: my plot twists, the meaning of my book’s title, and my characters’ motivation. This time I replied without stumbling over my words.
The agent, like the editor, was excited my book could be the first in a series. She said it sounded very marketable. She asked if I brought my computer to the conference, which I had, of course.
Then she asked me to email the full manuscript to her. Right away. As in, today.
I honestly don’t remember what happened after that. I don’t remember leaving. I’m sure I was too stunned to do a happy dance.
I brought my laptop to a quiet table in the lobby. With trembling fingers, I wrote my personalized query to the agent. I noted she had requested my full manuscript, and attached my document.
Then, for the life of me, I could not remember how to send an email.
I stared at the keyboard for a minute, then pushed the enter key.
That’s when I realized- oh my God- I had attached The. Wrong. Manuscript. In my daze, I had attached the version one of my critique partners had returned, littered with her red comments.
Thank goodness for enter keys.
I attached the correct manuscript, took a deep breath, and clicked the built-in mouse on my laptop (so that’s how you send an email!).
Now my manuscript is digitally nestled away in the computer of that agent. I’m sure she has dozens of others to read first, and she won’t read mine for months. I will send my synopsis and 50 pages to the editor soon.
If I had the chance to go back in time to those pitch appointments, I’d be better prepared for the motivation question. I’d also wait to calm down before emailing the agent. I had almost made a huge mistake, and waiting an hour would not have made a difference.
I had two successful pitches, but I don’t expect victory this early in my pursuit of publication. The agent and editor may still reject my manuscript. But pitching has buoyed my confidence in my novel and in myself. I’ll welcome future pitch appointments with enthusiasm. The word PITCH has new significance in my life--one that is much more important than a baseball term.
WOW! Awesome job, JayceeKaycee! We're so happy for you, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that you hear great things.
Read more about Jaycee's preparation and pitching tips at her blog: