|Uh, no, we're not talking baseball!|
But seriously??? The audacity!
The first clue I had that all this sidling and segueing was de rigueur was in 2001 at my second Mount Hermon conference. As at other conferences, attendees were given the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one appointments with editors and/or agents. And, as at other conferences, my initial thought was, “And what, pray tell, would I EVER IN A MILLION YEARS have to say to such an important person???”
But that year, fortunately, I was attending the conference with the ladies in my critique group, two of whom were published and who actually knew what they were doing. I watched in silent awe as one of them approached a big-name editor from a well-known Christian publishing house and began glibly describing the premise of her book. The editor nodded with interest and invited her to submit the manuscript.
Oooookay. Pitching to an editor. You get him interested. He says send the proposal. That’s how this is supposed to work, huh?
But moi? You want ME to try this? Uh-uh, no way!
So I let another entire conference go by with little more than timid smiles at the editors whose paths I happened to cross, while hoping and praying they’d NEVER ask me to talk about my book! (No worries there. All the glib and audacious writers successfully monopolized the editors’ time. )
Fast-forward to Houston 2003, my first national American Christian Romance Writers conference. That year I had a book manuscript I actually felt hopeful about. So I swallowed my fears (well, not really) and signed up for an appointment with the editor my research had told me would most likely be interested in a story like mine.
My appointment was at 2:00 Saturday afternoon, so I had all day Friday and all Saturday morning to get really nervous. I had a list of pitching guidelines in my folder that someone had generously posted to the loop prior to the conference, and I knew the important points I should share about my story. But no way did I have an “elevator pitch” perfectly memorized! I just prayed God would give me the words I needed when the time came.
|Pass the tissues, please!|
Not an auspicious first-ever appointment experience.
I’ll always be grateful for this editor’s patience and understanding. Her first instinct (a good one) was to offer me some of her peanut M&Ms. My response (a bad one) was to say, “No, thank you.” (I LOVE PEANUT M&Ms!)
Anyway, somehow I muddled through a description of the book I wanted to propose. She politely declined, saying she didn’t think it was quite what they were looking for. I thanked her, and that was that.
Bummer, huh? My first book pitch a total bust.
Not really. I’d tested the waters, broken the ice, conquered (or at least temporarily subdued) my worst fears. Next time, at least, I’d know what to expect.
Most importantly, I learned editors don’t live to rip off authors’ heads and fling them over the edge of the highest cliff. Editors (agents, too) are real people, not inapproachable luminaries enthroned on high. Most of them (in the Christian book market, anyway) are actually quite supportive and encouraging and want to see you succeed.
As for the manuscript the editor passed on, time (and lots of revisions) heals all wounds. I’m happy to say the story went on to win the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript. Autumn Rains was published by Heartsong Presents in 2009, and was named a Short Contemporary Romance finalist for the 2010 Carol Award. If you’re doing the math, that was seven years after my originally unsuccessful pitch, which just proves you should never, never, never give up!
If you haven’t yet read Autumn Rains, you could win your own autographed copy of the utterly fantabulous book passed up all those years ago by a certain editor who shall remain nameless. Just mention your interest in a comment to be entered in the drawing.
You can also find Autumn Rains in the Barbour Publishing three-in-one collection Gateway Weddings. Three Missouri women enter the gateway to life, love, and longing. Valerie Bishop, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is afraid to leave her home. Can ex-con Healy Ferguson show her the path to freedom? Sailor Kern is enamored of romance author Chandler Michaels. Will she fall for his lines or find a real hero in Parker Travis? Jilly Gardner has reluctantly agreed to help out her estranged foster parents. Will Cam Lane help the family heal the breach? Will these three couples be open to the plan God has for their lives—and loves?