PNWA Conference-Pitch Perfect

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PNWA Conference Pitch Perfect Blog

July Isn’t that Far Away

Preparing for my first writer’s conference, pitch perfect

I must admit, I’ve been writing for years and never went to a writer’s conference before. So this coming July I will be popping my author conference cherry with the PNWA Conference. It was always so expensive to go to one, which deterred me for many years, it isn’t any less expensive now, but building my network, getting the experience, and meeting some agents is an investment that I… decided to try out for myself.

  • Step One: Finished book for pitching
  • Step Two: Website presence in progress
  • Step Three: Pitch Perfect

When pitching during a pitch slam, you only have four minutes to impress an agent, editor, or publisher. During the pitch slam after waiting in the lines for your chosen author heroes, you only have time to talk to a minimum of three people, and maximum of six people.

  • time, four minutes.
  • agents to talk to, 3 to 6 out of 22
  • preparedness

Overcoming first obstacle takes over coming the third obstacle, being prepared with a perfect pitch to reduce fumbling time. Trouble is writing anything less than my query was difficult, so I watched a video from PNWA on preparing for the conference, by speaker Erika Mitchell, funny enough her name was actually misspelled on the PNWA Website:

PNWA Name Spelling Mistake

And her suggestion for reducing the pitch wasn’t to tell your plot, or I should say not to tell the whole story (believe it or not, that actually takes up the space of a book). That is much more than four minutes. So the first question is:

Who is your protagonist/main character: Crystal Dylan.

Who are they? She is a sixteen year old in hiding from the delusions of her father’s secret organization that wants to erase her from existence, because she knows the truth about her mother’s death, that she isn’t really dead at all.

What do they want? She wants to find the truth about her mother. And figure out her feelings for Victor, the boy at the local coffee shop.

What get’s in the way? The Devine Council is on to her trail, the unnamed secret organization her father had warned her about. They sent an energy serpent, also known to some humans as vampires, to sniff out her latent powers that were only useful to lure in monsters and drain her aura to point of physically dying. So in her opinion, magically stupid.

The first try came together like this: Crystal Dylan is a sixteen year old that has been hiding out in Pennsylvania for the past two years after her father’s had a delusional episode about a secret organization that took her mother and will stop at nothing to find her too. It’d been years with nothing to worry about other than getting really good at lying about who she was to the people who were no longer strangers, so she started researching her mother’s disappearance, and supposed death, only to have it land her on the Divine Council’s radar. Paranormal monsters called energy serpents were after her, and she needed to know why, but she also needed to survive long enough to tell the boy that lived down the street how she felt about him.

My second try was: Crystal Dylan is a sixteen year old in hiding assuming the identity of ballroom dance instructor while investigating the disappearance of her long thought dead mother, navigating her feelings for the boy who works at the coffee shop next door, and avoiding capture by the Divine Council’s energy serpents, also known as vampires, who can sense her latent magical abilities that were as good as a snot rag since all they were good for was attracting monsters, and being the reason why her aura was drained to the point of physically dying.

Now those are both around 100 words, and can be said in thirty seconds, I timed it out loud. Not bad timing, but it get’s more complicated when there is another person sitting across from you, thirty seconds of non-stop speaking can be very winded for a conversation, at that point it really isn’t a conversation, it’s me speaking in penguin to another person who is actually paying more attention to the fact that I was smart enough to eat a breath mint before flapping my lips, or perhaps I wasn’t smart enough… (rushes to buy more breath mints) Which one do you like better? How would you do it differently?

So now I have to think about making it a conversation, so shorter.

“Hello, I’m so excited to be here! I waited in line for you because I know you represent ____ and I think Blood Crescent would be a great fit.

(Don’t shake hands, they don’t want to get sick after shaking hundreds of writer’s clammy excited hands. Instead I place a business card on the table. And if it were more acceptable in American Culture, I would bow and hold it out like a Japanese business person.)

They speak something magical and then ending with, “What do you have for me?” I proceed to hold in my nervous energy and hopefully don’t look like a creepy stalker, breathing heavy, and wanting to take them home with me.

“It’s a young adult fantasy romance about Crystal Dylan, a sixteen year old in hiding investigating the disappearance of her mother, thought to be dead, while navigating her feelings for the nearby coffee shop clerk, and avoiding capture by a supernatural council that will stop at nothing to find her. Sending energy serpents, also known as vampires, to track her latent magical abilities that were as good as the tissue she blew into, since all they were good for was attracting monsters, and draining her aura to the point of physically dying.”

Tough part, remembering how I just wrote everything down, so that when I’m there in person I say it just like that, without thinking, um, and, uh, and time wasting silence. Over all the whole introduction and pitch take less than a minute, leaving the rest of the three minutes for the agent to ask questions and lure them into asking for a manuscript to review. It’s important to remember that they are people too, no just a wall to bounce your pitch off of, so make sure to keep it as conversational as possible.

And that’s only 12 to 24 minutes of my experience at the conference, the whole rest of the time is open for me to meet other writers and gain comradery, which I’m super excited about. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Next Post will continue with Obstacle Two: so many agents, not enough time for all of them.

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