Friday, July 12, 2013

Pitch Perfect

I’ve been a singer much longer than I’ve been a writer. In fact, I was singing before I learned to read or write. My mom has a tape recording of me singing when I was three years old. During the recording, I stopped singing and yelled, “Hey, Mama, what’s the next part of that song?” So now, it’s a running joke in my family to ask what the next part of the song is.
There’s also a great movie entitled Pitch Perfect. Of course, it has a lot of singing and I think it’s Aca-awesome because it’s right up my Aca-alley. Also, Rebel Wilson is a riot.

Now that I’m a romance writer seeking publication, the term pitch has taken on a whole new meaning. A few weeks ago I posted on my blog about Learning to Pitch. I compiled the information I obtained from taking a couple of pitching classes and made a fun (for me) analogy to pitching baseballs.
I’ve been practicing my pitches because the Romance Writers of America National Convention is next week. I have one pitch prepared for an editor, in which I’m trying to sell a story. I have another pitch prepared for an agent, in which I’m trying to sell myself. (Not in the “oldest profession” sense but in the “I’m a talented writer” sense.)
I need a lot of practice because I tend to ramble if I don’t focus. I want my pitch to be perfect but that puts a lot of pressure on me. I love yoga and I’d been practicing for years before I heard an instructor say, “That’s why we call it yoga practice, not yoga perfect.”

When I recalled this piece of wisdom, it helped take the pressure off. If I start off perfect, there’s no room for improvement. I have to crawl before I can walk and then run. I have to practice mountain pose before I can progress to tree pose and then swaying tree pose.
Taking the focus away from perfection isn’t an excuse not to practice and be my best, but it is a way of reminding myself that I will get there, even if I don’t perform perfectly the first time. I’ll keep practicing because I want to put my best foot forward, even if it's during horizontal running.

What are you practicing these days? Getting your pitch perfect? Improving your craft? Your sport? Your body? Your life?


Louisa Cornell said...

I think you have hit on the single most important thing to remember. It does NOT have to be perfect. This is a tough concept for many writers to get.

I am getting my pitches ready for RWA as well. I am trying very hard not to obsess about it and I have come to realize that nobody knows these books better than I do. All I have to do is tell this editor and this agent why I love these books so much. Passion sells.

Christine said...

Great post, Meda! I remember gearing up for my first pitch session and I was a nervous wreck. But this editor came and sat with me just before I was supposed to pitch and it turned out she was the senior editor of the same line I was pitching to an associate editor. She was so nice to me that I wasn't nervous anymore.

Editors really do want to get good stories and I know you're going to be great!

Angela N. Blount (RedPeril) said...

If you get out what you need to say, and you don't puke on their shoes, you did fine. :) That was the most freeing piece of information I ever received about pitching. While you are sort of selling yourself, they're not looking for a stellar orator. They want a non-diva with a sellable concept and...hopefully...some talent.

It also helps that, at most of these conferences and arranged pitching events, you'll almost always get at least a partial request--unless the agent or editor absolutely does not handle the genre you're pitching. (Or, you become defensive/belligerent about the questions they might have about your plot. Don't do that. >.>) So I look at it not as 'will they request my manuscript?' but 'will they remember me well enough to not let me languish at the bottom of their requested materials pile for 6-8 months?'

Meda White said...

@Louisa-- Thank you for your words of wisdom. I'll remember what you said about passion.

@Christine-- Thanks for the reminder that they are people too and the words of encouragement.

@Angela-- Thanks for your kind words. I'll try not to be a diva, but that shouldn't be too hard since my sister got the diva genes in our family. :)

Kat Jones said...

Awesome post! A great reminder that we don't have to get it right the first time... Or the second. We just have to keep our head in the game and keep at it.

You will do a great job at Nationals! :-)