Pitch Perfect

What does the word pitch mean?

1 To throw something.

2 The voice. To hit, the right note.

I have to confess, I am no expert in pitching anything, especially throwing a ball. And I couldn’t hit the right note whilst singing, even if you paid me. Yet in a few weeks, this is something some of us will be doing.

The RNA conference will be here in a few weeks time. This is an opportunity to pitch your novel to the publishing world. This is an occasion to sparkle and wow them. To see the masterpiece you have created finally out in the world. This is the dream of every author.

Now, here is what not to do. I have experience in this area. A few years ago at the RNA winter party, my friend who came with me, nudged me in the direction of an M&B editor. Needless to say, I was terrified. She asked me about my novel, and I told her. It seemed to be going well. It was then, I realised her eyes had glazed over. Not a good sign! It was at this point I decided it was a lost cause. I made my escape as fast as possible. She seemed very relieved.

Then, I went to the conference, and decided to put myself through the agony again.

First of all made sure my first chapter and synopsis were emailed to the editor. Great

Practiced out loud how I would answer questions thrown at me.

Two days before the conference I had an email asking me, if I had sent a chapter for the editor to look at. Panic set in, I double checked, and decided to send another copy. Still no luck! She hadn’t received it. Now what was I going to do? By now I could see my chance slipping away. At this point my nerves had kicked in. They decided to have a bit of a meltdown. This is another area that I do have experience in.

It was the day before the conference still the editor hadn’t received my chapter! By this time my nails were bitten, and I had started to pull my hair out. Gone was any thought about the weekend ahead. I was absorbed with this one interview, the one occasion where I might be able to shine. By this time I didn’t even have a hint of a sparkle about me. Nervous and wreck come to mind, and I hadn’t even seen anyone yet. Then it happened. The editor told me to bring a hard copy of my work with me. She would try and read it between interviews. At this point, I felt relief and nervous, all for a different reason.

So on the interview day, I stood with all the other people waiting to tell their story. My hands were sweaty, and I felt sick and my mouth felt parched and dry. Hearing my name called I walked in, and so began my first pitch.

Though there were a few disasters along the way. At the end I felt really positive. Even if you feel the pitch was a complete disaster, it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that you have stepped out and you have tried. Maybe practice makes perfect. So I encourage everyone this year to go for it, regardless how you feel. Sometimes we have to do step out and do it, even if we feel afraid.

Lorraine x


10 thoughts on “Pitch Perfect

  1. Oh goodness, Lorraine, I could feel your nerves and virtually hear your heart thudding when I read this piece! I am not sure I could do it and if my chance of publication depends on my ability to pitch to a stranger at a party or conference, then I fear my work might forever gather virtual dust on the hard drive of my laptop. Good luck to you and everyone else pitching at the RNA conference this year, though, and hopefully some of you can follow Helen P’s fantastic success from last year.

    Jo x

  2. Oh Lorraine that all sounds so traumatic; I can’t help but admire your spirit to be even thinking of doing it all again! But I guess you’re right, it must get easier the more you do it.
    A while ago there was an email discussion on Romna when the question was asked, should we attempt to pitch to agents at the parties? Opinion was well and truly divided. Some were adamant that parties were for everyone to enjoy and meet people but not for pitching. In fact some agents were apparently known to be very much against it, so Lorraine if you accidentally encountered one of those then however brilliant your pitch it was not going to be well received. Not that you could know that of course. Others on Romna said yes, go to parties prepared to pitch, pitch, pitch. If the experienced ones don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong, it probably means that there is no right and wrong so no harm in just going for it.
    Best of luck everyone who is planning to pitch at the conference. At least your chosen recipients will be conducive to the task, so you’re half way there!
    Deirdre x

  3. Gosh Lorraine that sounds every bit as traumatic as I’d expected! I’m yet to do it but I’m sure to be just as nervous as you. I guess the trick is to have lots of manuscripts ready to sell so you don’t pin all your hopes on one but it’s not that easy is it?

    I will have to follow in your footsteps sometime but meanwhile best of luck next time!

    • Jo, at the time it felt traumatic, but ended with some really positive feedback, so It was worth going through the pain. The only thing is, the M&B editor didn’t have time to read the hard copy! So had to pitch almost the whole novel. It kept me on my toes! And I have every faith that you could pitch if you had to.

      Deirdre, as for pitching your novel at a party etc. It can’t hurt to ask the person if they wouldn’t mind hearing your pitch. If they say no, at least you know where you stand. I can honestly say it did benefit me, because of the feedback on my novel. The editor pointed out where I was going wrong and what needed changing. So it was really helpful.

    • Thanks Jean,
      I hope this year to be prepared, no faulty computer, this time. HOORAY!

      It can only get better after last time. I think if I had lots manuscripts, it would take me forever to decide what to pitch!

      Lorraine x

  4. Lorraine I was there in my mind outside that door with you in fact I could possibly have been standing next to you. The thing is you managed to do it and there is nothing like been put on the spot to turn you into a nervous wreck. Well done you, I think I would have gone to pieces if Anna hadn’t read my hard copy. You went throught the worst possible experience so this year is going to be a breeze and you will wow them all, I have every faith in you 🙂 In all of you!

    Helen xx

  5. I’m sure it’s going to be much better this time. Keep calm and let them see how much you love your characters and enjoy writing.

    • Thanks Helen, It is a possibility you were there, I appreciate the encouragement. Fingers crossed, this time everything will be ok.

      Rachael, I am just watching the end of Johnny English, with Rowen Atkinson. He is singing an ABBA song. If I get a little nervous, I might break out and sing a chorus of Dancing Queen, or maybe Waterloo! Better not, I might not get in the room at all! Though it might help me. I will go with your advice, and try to be calm about it all.
      Lorraine x

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