Pitch it

I thought pitches were for other industries but I’ve had a rude awakening. Last year when I went to the SCWBI conference I was amazed to see people voluntarily standing up, with professionalism and finesse, and pitch their manuscripts to an audience of peers and publishers. They were so good at it! It was like seeing impro at a drama camp. I’d only ever done one pitch for a manuscript before and I remember being dull. I thought pitches (like the black stuff) were meant to be dull in order to convey extreme literary merit. Another thing I’ve been wrong about. Pitches with polish are the go.

On Saturday, I went to a workshop run by Rhonda Whitton, she of the yellow Writer’s Marketplace book fame. The workshop was on writing book proposals for fiction and non-fiction. Although some of it was fairly fundamental, her message reached all of us. Know the marketability of your manuscript and be able to pitch it to publishers. This might be in letter form or it could be verbally (less likely). Writing is a business so Rhonda talked of business plans, with market research a must. I got a lot out of the day.

When you start looking around, you see the pitch signs everywhere. Allen & Unwin have a Friday pitch and Penguin ask for a pitch letter when you submit. It’s been there in front of my nose.

Pitching is not the first thing that comes into my mind when I think of being a writer. I can more clearly see someone sitting at a desk, head down, frown on, listening to the lonely warble of bored magpies. I’ve gotta change my vision to one of a confident, out-there business person who can see why their manuscript would sell. Eeekk.

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