Yesterday at the meeting, something a chapter member said really hit home with me. We were talking about pitching to agents and editors. (For the sake of shortening this blog, I’ll mention only editors, but this holds true for agents too.). Some of the authors were saying they were too nervous to be coherent and others said they needed their notes to do the pitch right. A chapter member said that she could write about her story and really have an editor be interested in it, but to sell herself, she was horrible at it.
Now don’t get me wrong, the chapter member isn't that type of lady. But when you meet an editor face-to-face, you’re not only trying to sell a story, but sell them on what type of person you’ll be to work with.
I work in sales and meet customers face-to-face often, though most of my work is over the phone and internet. The types of customers I deal with are gruff men of all ages that work with other men that handle heavy equipment and dig in dirt and grime all day. In fact, my job is usually done by men too. So you can imagine I have to prove to them that I can be trusted in giving them good and accurate information and make sure the products are where they should be and at the time they need it. If I don’t, it can cost them (and my company) thousands of dollars. Most of my jobs cost anywhere between $20,000 to $60,000 each, but several are in the millions. My recent one is 13.8M.
Now I told you all that to make you understand why (along with my personality) I rarely become nervous in front of editors. So while I was waiting for my appointment at our recent conference, it was the same chapter member that gave me some pointers on an editor as she had just met with her. (Thanks!)
Well, as you can imagine, I "aced" the interview. In fact, the editor said I did a great job on my pitch (Thanks, Kelley St. John!). But I know even without the chapter member’s advice or Kelley’s training, I would have done okay for I’d realized a few things about editors in particular. They like a smiling face, enthusiasm for your own story, and short fact-filled pitches.
Not only because of my job and my own personality (extrovert) can I "ace" an appointment, but I find meeting any new person interesting. If I’m not careful, I’ll catch myself focusing on their expressions and their clothes to the point I forget to listen. I enjoy meeting new people. I may feel uncomfortable with the way they handle themselves or talk or dress or whatever, but I still like to know more about them. And why I do that? Just like you, some small quirk or something will help me flesh out a character in a book. I think all authors find people-watching fun.
Now if only I can improve on my writing so those editors will be just as enthused by my work as they are with my pitches.
Do you have a hard time selling yourself and why? And where do you like to people-watch?