As a week of relaxing in central PA with my brother and his family nears its end, a small rumble has begun in my belly. I have to prepare for a “pitch session”. Would that such a thing involved baseballs — or the plastic wiffle balls that have been flying up here this week. But no.
This weekend (June 28-29) I attend the NJ-SCBWI 2014 Conference. At the 2014 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York I met two NJ-SCBWI chapter coordinators — Leeza Hernandez and Karen Romagna — whose infectious good spirits left me with a resolve that, despite having lived in the Garden State for just one single, challenging, post-college year, many years ago, I would find a way to tap into their group’s great resources and energy.
The NJ crew has organized an impressive and packed schedule. As part of it, every attendee is offered a free “pitch session” with an agent or editor who has generously made him/herself available for the weekend. While I so appreciate the opportunity, I also find it a bit unsettling. If there is one thing that I am not, it is a saleswoman — and to the degree that I ever do learn to sell, I anticipate being much more effective in writing than in person.
The pre-conference materials, while otherwise incredibly thorough, don’t seem to offer any tips. Out here in the blogosphere, though, pitch session pointers occur in clusters of seven. Peggy Eddelman offers her septet in Writers’ Digest, and the variously AKAed Jennifer Lawler offers another heptad on her blog. Kerrie Flanagan’s seven show up at WOW-womenonwriting.com. And, finally, Sue Fagalde Lick provides a mere four at writing-world.com (but she gets extra credit for the agent interviews she folds in).
When you’re nervous about something, a little hole-poking snark is generally good for easing tension, and my favorite post — for this ignoble reason — was this rant from Literary Agent Janet Reid. (No sevens here.) Reid argues that there are other, better ways for authors and agents to interact at conferences. She writes of vomiting authors and cringing agents, and she calls the sessions ‘the spawn of Satan’.
This being the second writing conference I’ve ever attended, and the first pitch session I’ll try, I can’t really weigh in on the subject. I don’t anticipate vomit, though some cringe wouldn’t totally surprise me.