No, silly, not those agents.
It’s been been over a year since I discussed The Fine Art of Selling Yourself. Other than being almost done with a novel that, while imperfect, might actually have a shot of getting some ink, very little has changed for me. I still think pitches should be simple, agents should be approached with confidence and that no amount of rejection should stop you (or me) from trying to hook one.
But there’s something else. Something I nearly forgot in the rush to finish the aforementioned manuscript.
Have something solid.
It’s very, very rare for a project in any sort of media to get picked up on pitch alone. Unless you know someone in the business, have perfect timing, and possess a supernatural awareness of what’s going to sell to a lucrative demographic, you might as well be throwing darts at a dart board. But a solid work? Something that’s been revised, edited and polished? That’s like approaching the same dart board with a shotgun.
That’s why I took the pressure of off myself to finish before the weekend. I might finish at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, in addition to attending workshops and Tweeting to make sure all of my literary friends know what the place has to offer, but I realize just how bad of a first impression it’d be for me to run into a face-to-face with an agent, out of breath but happy to have a finished work to pitch. The last thing you want from someone you might be working with is to meet them when they sweat all over your shirt.
So I’m not going to embarrass myself – any more than I do normally, shut up. Clean clothes, nice hat, fresh battery in the pocket watch, business cards. I’ll meet people, network, get people interested. If I do approach an agent, it’d be to pick their brain, see how my genre is doing and what the demand is. Maybe a quick ‘elevator’ pitch as to what Citizen in the Wilds is all about, why it might sell and to whom it’d appeal. Maybe.
But I won’t be looking for an agent in earnest until Citizen is trimmed and pruned, which might be a while.
Speaking of, however, if anybody here has been using Google Wave for their project in terms of getting collaborative feedback, can you give me any tips on how to get started? I’m thinking once I get people on board, it’ll be best to release one chapter at a time, get it fixed up, and then move on.
Finally, if I do go that route, would anybody like to help tear my writing a structurally superfluous new behind? I’ll start a list. Then when the last word’s been banged out, I’ll start dangling nice meaty chops of potential fantasy-flavored fail for your minds to nom on.
June 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm
“It’s very, very rare for a project in any sort of media to get picked up on pitch alone. Unless you know someone in the business, have perfect timing, and possess a supernatural awareness of what’s going to sell to a lucrative demographic, you might as well be throwing darts at a dart board. But a solid work? Something that’s been revised, edited and polished? That’s like approaching the same dart board with a shotgun.”
This isn’t entirely accurate — TV and film can be predicated on pitch alone, and further, established authors often pitch books before they actually start to write.
That said, in terms of who you are (or who I am), yeah, pitching is a hollow endeavor if there’s no there there.
The good thing you want to do here is make contact and, more appropriately, Make Contacts. Ask questions, get on the radar, maybe even be prepared to vocalize about your MS a little bit — you might get a foot in the door that later lets your query letter float to the top of the pile rather than languish long at the bottom.
Do it up, and good luck.
June 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Good call. I thought you were going to destroy yourself trying to finish that sucker up in a week. Take your time and let it ferment into a beautiful literary butterfly. Wait, do butterflies ferment? Note to self: find out…
Oh, and have fun bailing on work Friday, ya bum. =)