Friday, July 15, 2011

From the Trenches

The most humiliating thing happened. I was chatting with Steve Meltzer (very senior editor at Dial) at the NJ SCBWI conference and he asked me what picture books I was shopping.

Uh... I have one about a girl and her doll and they pretend all the time. It's about imagination really and her brother keeps trying to steal her doll, but she keeps rescuing her, and .... well, really it's about sibling rivalry, but.. there is a lot of imaginary play, and... in the end, the doll goes missing, and the brother rescues her. Um, well.. it's a lot better than it sounds!

Could anything be more embarrassing.

Lessons to learn from this?

(1) Always have a pitch ready.
I was not attending any pitch sessions, so I did not prepare anything. Plus, I have an agent, so I am not really attending conferences to pitch my work. I am there to just make connections and build relationships. But I should have had one ready just in case!

(2) Make sure your story has a strong hook. Even though this particular story has some universal themes and may appeal to a lot of people, I realized (in the midst of my stammering and stuttering, stumbling and bumbling) "This story is never going to sell!"

If I can't pitch it to an editor, how will an editor pitch it to a sales and marketing team?

Compare it to .. oh, say THREE NINJA PIGS: The three pigs get fed up with the big bad wolf and go to ninja school!

Sounds so much more appealing!

Do you have a good one line pitch for your story?


Hardygirl said...

Well, I actually think your book sounds great!

Of course, when I was little, my older brother used to steal my barbie dolls, cut their hair, and hang them naked from his GI Joe tower.

So, it kinda hits close to home!


storyqueen said...

This is SO me! I had someone ask me the other day what one of my books was about and I just hemmed and hawed. So embarrassing. Would have been fine if my book was about jibberish, I suppose.

Unknown said...

Very good point - no hook, no book! It seems even more important in this current market to have a strong hook.

Natalie said...

I thought your pitch was pretty great too! It may not be short and to the point, but it sounds like something my girls would love. :)

Still I get what you're trying to say. I'm TERRIBLE at pitching in person. I ramble.

Anonymous said...

This link was recently shared on Verla's:

It has great advice for developing a pitch. :)


Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Your book sounds good to me :)
I actually think being able to come up with a one line pitch is the test of whether your story is good or not. If you can't do it, the story probably won't cut it and you need to do some more thinking. But I am terrible and condensing - I can't even do it with other people's books that are fantastic :)

Lydia Kang said...

Oh dear, I don't think I have a pitch ready for my WIP! Need to think of that, great point!

Jean Reidy said...

Hey Corey, great advice. I found the best lesson for creating that perfect pitch in a screenwriting book I read recently called SAVE THE CAT. I highly recommend it.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Did you get his email? Maybe you could send him a tighter pitch.

I've written pitches for my I just need start sending them out. :)

Corey, everyone has a blushing momment. Don't worry about it.

Jeff King said...

I wish I did...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it will be a good book.

Thanks for sharing the good advice. Something to definitely remember.

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks for the important reminder. Your pitch for the Three Ninja Pigs was spot on. I'm refining my one-line pocket pitch now. Maybe I'll practice it in front of my critique partners - or a non-judgmental mirror.

I'm Tweeting this blog post, BTW.

K said...

My pre-Nanowrimo workshop had us work on this, but I didn't do it for any of my other projects. I think it's a good idea to have a couple of pitches ready, just in case! But then if he knows what you've published and what you're about to publish, maybe that gives you more credit and an editor would be willing to hear you out :)

Lauren F. Boyd said...

Corey, so sorry about that! I can see that happening to me as well: not being ready with a pitch because I wasn't planning on having the opportunity to pitch. Then, the next time around, I'd have a pitch memorized to the "T" - and no one would ask for it, haha! :)

Tana said...

I've embarrassed myself more times than I can remember like that. Yikes! It's a good lesson for us all to learn. ;)