Monday, July 8, 2013

Seekerville Welcomes Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell: How to Pitch Your Book Like a Rock Star!

Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell
Seekerville is honored to have Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell guest blogging with us today. Those of you who follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyRodmell or eHarlequin.com know the many innovative ways she connects with writers and readers to promote Love Inspired Books. Committed to publishing excellence, Emily is always searching for new authors to bring into the Love Inspired lineup. Today, she's providing detailed information about what editors look for in a pitch, which is especially timely for all those meeting with editors and agents at the upcoming RWA National Conference. Thanks, Emily, for sharing your tips on pitching. Now, please join me in welcoming Emily, who happens to be my wonderful editor, to Seekerville!

With conference season upon us, many writers are gearing up for editor or agent pitches. I’ve sat on the other end of those pitches many times as an editor both in person and online, so I wanted to take a moment to share some advice for making the most of the opportunity. Here are some tips to take your in-person pitches from drab to fab.

 • Don’t be nervous. For my first pitch session as an editor, I was sent--by myself--to a place where I was required to take almost 30 pitches. I had never done this before and was a bit nervous, so imagine my surprise when pitchers sat in front of me and were so nervous that some of them were visibly shaking. At the time, I was mystified and thought, “If only they knew I’d never done this before and was just as nervous as they were.” While I’m now a pitch veteran, I still don’t think my fellow editors and agents and I are scary. So breathe. We’re just your average everyday people, and your entire career doesn’t depend on this one pitch session. Even if you don’t get a request, you could still go on to sell a book and have a great career. So take the pressure off yourself.

 • Treat the pitch as a conversation rather than a speech. Editors and agents will love you for it. Think of it this way: you’re trying to sell your book. When you go into a clothing store, which do you prefer? The salesgirl who takes one look at you and sends you where she thinks you belong (i.e all older women directed to the boring grey dresses, and younger women to the flashy neon pink ones.) Or the salesgirl who takes time to ask you questions and find out what you like, and discovers that both of you really want a chic, sophisticated red dress. Editors and agents are the same. We much prefer the author who comes in and has a conversation with us, to the author who comes in and immediately starts rattling off a memorized blurb or reading off a piece of paper for five minutes. Come in, exchange pleasantries, tell us why you want to work with us, offer a short blurb (advice on crafting that below) and ask questions. That will be less pressure for you and more enjoyable for us.

Emily gathers with some of the Seekers!
Now that you know what frame of mind to approach the pitch from, you’re on your way to preparing your materials for the actual pitch, and I have three simple tips to help you make your pitch take shape.

First, kick back story to the background. If you’re pitching a novel, especially a romance novel, here is the key: focus on plot, conflict and hooks rather than back story. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down with an author who talks in great detail about the hero and heroine’s back stories. When the author finally takes a breath and finishes her pitch, the first question out of my mouth usually is, “So what happens in the book?” Followed by the inevitable answer, “Well, they fall in love.” To which I say, “How?” Cue blank look from author who has spent five minutes telling me about the back story and hasn’t said a word about what happens in the actual book. Back story isn’t going to sell your book, the actual plot of the book will. My colleague, Elizabeth Mazer put it best when she said, “What the reader is going to see is what the character is doing, right in the moment when the action starts--so that's where the pitch should start, too.” 

Second, prepare a short blurb that focuses on hooks, plot and conflict. Now that you’ve taken your focus off back story, put it on the important parts of your story. To craft a short summary of your book that will entice editors and agents, you want to ask yourself three questions: 


1. What are my hooks? Hooks are the selling points for your book. For instance: Cool location (Texas, Alaska, New Orleans), popular theme (Amish, Reunion Romance, Secret Baby), Unique Occupation (pirates, Secret Agents, Bodyguards), Time period (Regency, Western, Turn of the Century), ect. 

2. What is my plot? There needs to be something interesting happening in your book that you can talk about other than, “They fall in love.” What happens to lead them to that point? It needs to be more than them just going on dates or running into each other around town. 

3. What is my conflict (both internal and external)? There needs to be something keeping them from falling in love right away. If both the hero and heroine don’t have a good internal conflict and external conflict then your book will feel episodic (like a series of unrelated “episodes” that are strung together with little to connect them rather than a defined plot that grows to a climax). Internal conflict is simply factors inside the hero and heroine’s minds that could prevent them from falling in love. For example, the heroine’s husband left her for someone else, so she doesn’t feel she can trust men, and the hero puts his career above everything and doesn’t want to show weakness by falling in love. External conflict is the external forces in the plot that could prevent them from falling in love or having a relationship. For example, the hero and heroine can’t be together because the hero is the developer trying to build condos over the nature preserve the heroine manages. 

If your book is focused, you should have no problem answering those questions and coming up with a great pitch that can be two to three sentences. If you can’t answer those questions without going into a long explanation, your book probably isn’t focused enough, and you’d be better off working on it some more before pitching so that you can put your best foot forward with the editor or agent. 


Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell hard at work
in her NYC office.
Here’s an example of a pitch that incorporates plot, conflict and hooks: Small town sheriff hero is thrown for a loop when his ex-fiancé  moves back to town and runs against him in the election. As they fight for the town they grew up in, they rediscover the love of their youth. 

Hooks: Small town, sheriff, reunion romance 
Plot: Each wants to win the election without losing their hearts. 
Conflict: They're fighting for the same job, and fighting feelings for each other.

Third, prepare questions. I recommend that you come to the pitch with questions for the editor or agent. If you’ve gotten your blurb down to the few sentences, there should be time left over for you to use the opportunity to learn more about what the editor or agent is looking for. That information can sometimes be more valuable than an immediate request. I actually bought two books from authors who came to the pitch, ran an idea by me that I felt wasn’t for us, then proceeded to ask questions about what did work for us. They then submitted new projects that we eventually bought. 


With these few steps, you’ll be on your way to wowing an editor or agent and selling your book. I hope this has been helpful for you all. If you’re pitching soon, feel free to try out your new short blurbs in the comments. And if you want to put your pitches into action with me, I’ll be taking pitches at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in September. If you can’t make it there, Love Inspired always accepts both agented and unagented submissions year round.

Emily Rodmell and Love Inspired Associate Editors
Elizabeth Mazer and Shana Smith
Bio: Emily Rodmell is an editor for Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical lines. She is actively looking for new authors (especially romantic suspense authors who can write stories featuring edge-of-your-seat danger and suspense with heart-pounding romance mixed in). For tips on writing and publishing, along with the occasional cute animal picture or NYC slice of life observation, follow her on Twitter @EmilyRodmell

Leave a comment, question or a two-to-three line pitch to be entered into today’s drawings. Seekerville is giving away the following seven bundles of Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical books: 

Georgia Sweethearts, by Missy Tippens 
Yuletide Hearts, by Ruth Logan Herne 
Noah's Sweetheart, by Rebecca Kertz 

Mending the Doctor's Heart, by Tina Radcliffe 
Reunited Hearts, by Ruth Logan Herne 
The Officer’s Secret, by Debby Giusti 

The Bride Wore Spurs, by Janet Dean 
Small-town Hearts, by Ruth Logan Herne 
The Captain’s Mission, by Debby Giusti 

Mended Hearts, by Ruth Logan Herne 
Georgia Sweethearts, by Missy Tippens 
The Colonel’s Daughter, by Debby Giusti 

A Horseman's Hope, by Myra Johnson 
A Family to Cherish, by Ruth Logan Herne 
Baby in His Arms, by Linda Goodnight 

His Mistletoe Family, by Ruth Logan Herne 
Montana Wrangler, by Charlotte Carter 
A Canyon Springs Courtship, by Glynna Kaye

The Lawman's Second Chance, by Ruth Logan Herne
A Canyon Springs Courtship, by Glynna Kaye
The Bride Wore Spurs, by Janet Dean

The coffee's hot and the breakfast bar is open. This morning, we're serving scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit, pastries, muffins, and grits. Enjoy!

228 comments :

  1. And there's plenty of coffee to go along with that great breakfast.

    Thanks for being here, Emily.

    I'm not ready to pitch anything right now. I just contracted a three book series with Heartsong Presents, and a new project is only in beginning stages.

    Helen

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  2. My internet has been out all evening, but came back on just in time to check in here.

    Thanks for taking the time to give such great advice, Emily.

    And Seekers, thank YOU all for the generous giveaways.

    I have to be in a workshop all day tomorrow, but I look forward to coming home and reading all the posts.

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  3. Thanks for the great tips, Emily. I had a wonderful pitch session with a LI editor at a conference last year and learned firsthand how nice you lovely ladies are. She helped ease my severe case of the jitters and even had me smiling at times.

    I'm curious about the little figures on your computer. Are those Lego fellows? Is there a fun story behind them?

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  4. Welcome back to Seekerville, Emily Rodmell.

    Oh how I wish I had read this terrific information years ago. I went to conferences for years and years and I pitched possibly twice because I was terrified of one -on-one pitching.

    I thought it was a no-no to actually chat with an editor. I was certain a thunderbolt would strike me dead for daring to be so cheeky.

    This is terrific information. Again, thank you.

    WHAT CONFERENCES MIGHT YOU BE ATTENDING IN THE NEAR FUTURE??

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  5. I've always hated the idea of pitching. HATED IT.

    But this doesn't sound so bad! great blog post!!

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  6. I'm far from giving a pitch but this is definitely a post for my keeper book. Thank you.

    I'm off to work now. Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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  7. Emily, good morning! I love your matter-of-fact advice. It's all so true and you never know what might come of a meeting...chance or planned... with an acquiring editor. I remember Melissa saying to me, "Ruth, we met before I contracted you. Do you remember?"

    I did. I was the moral support for a VERY NERVOUS Seeker waiting for an appointment with an editor and Melissa approached us just to chat. I think my heart was probably racing while my head was saying, "Melissa Endlich is talking to us!!! Melissa Endlich is talking to us!!!!!! Melissa Endlich is TALKING TO US!!!!

    I nodded. "In the hotel corridor of XXXX hotel."

    She smiled and said, "I decided right then I wanted to get to know you better."

    Fourteen books later, you could say we've gotten to know each other better. It was a couple of years before she published work she saw in a contest... we love contests!... but that first impression stayed with her. What a blessing that has been and I had no idea at the time.

    Relax and be yourself, well... maybe a slightly better version of yourself. :)

    Emily, can't wait to see pitches today! Thank you so much for being here to help prep folks for conference. You rock!

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  8. While I am not a writer loved the post and the sample you gave I would read.
    I have one or two books in all bundles. (Montana Wrangler, by Charlotte Carter is one of the few I hope to get at some stage that I dont already have).


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  9. Morning, Helen! We're so proud of your three-book contract. Evidently you did a great job pitching your stories to Heartsong Presents.

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  10. Sorry about your Internet problems, Mary Curry. Enjoy your all-day workshop. Hope you'll have time to stop by later this evening.

    BTW, can't wait to see you at RWA Nationals! Will you be pitching to an editor or agent?

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  11. Virginia,
    I agree! Emily's blog post is wonderful and packed with great info.

    Can't see you being worried about pitching, Virginia. You'd probably have the editor/agent laughing and both of you would feel at ease immediately. :)

    BTW, that's an important tip that Emily provided. Start your pitch with conversation. I always thank the editor for being at the conference. If it's a local event, I'll ask if she's had time to see some of the sights or if she's been in that part of the country before. Having some prepared "ice-breakers" helps to establish a relaxed tone for the appointment.

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  12. Waving to Cindy who's up and out early this morning.

    Grab some coffee on your way to work, Cindy.

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  13. Ruthy, thanks for sharing your story about meeting Melissa. A lot of good things happen at writing conferences besides the workshops and scheduled appointments, as you mentioned. Having an "elevator pitch," or short blurb ready is always a plus in case an editor or agents asks what you're writing.

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  14. Hi Jenny!

    You're such a devoted Love Inspired reader. Thanks for supporting our books and spreading the word in Australia!

    I'll be mentioning our lunch in Atlanta during the Seeker's RWA workshop next week as an example of how the Seekerville blog community loves to meet in person whenever possible. That time together was so special for all of us!

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  15. Emily,

    Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for sharing these great tips with us. This is definitely a keeper.

    Pitch:

    When a conspiracy between an insurance company and a law firm nearly kills her grandmother, Lainey Williams is determined to expose it—even if it costs her own life and threatens her chance at love.

    Thanks again for sharing today.

    Jackie Layton

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  16. Thanks Debby it was special to me too.
    Considering how tired I was I had a wonderful time.
    The meeting in Spokane with Janet Tronstad and Jillian Hart (and Danica) and other readers was also wonderful.

    I love the LI books but I am still reading so slow at present. I still tire so easily at night that am to tired to read but as it warms up (in a few months) I will read more.
    thinking audio books may be worth checking out as I could listen while walking.

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  17. Yay, Jackie! The first pitch of the day.

    Can you include a bit of info about the hero, the love interest?

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  18. Sorry to hear you're still so tired, Jenny. Take care of yourself!

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  19. What a fabulous way to start the week! Emily, not only are your suggestions great for pitchers, I also realized they can help me sharpen the focus of a story to make sure it's distinctive and meaningful. Thanks so much :)

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  20. Hi Mia! You're so right. Emily's information is important for story development as well as pitching.

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  21. Thank you, Emily. You sound like a caring, genuine person who would be easy to talk to. When I have opportunity to pitch my book, I'll remember what you said in this post.

    Mainly, just breath... :-)

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  22. Welcome back to Seekerville, Emily!

    And Ladies and Gentlemen the LI editors ARE very, very nice, so don't be afraid to "pitch" your stories to them! And DO remember that if they ask to see a proposal or a "full" SEND IT TO THEM! You wouldn't believe the number of authors who pitch to editors and agents, receive a request, then they never follow through to send anything to the editor/agent. So, don't be a "no show" if you get a much-coveted request!

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  23. Hi Mary Hicks!
    Emily is a gifted editor and a caring person, which is probably obvious by the wonderful tips she shared with us. I'm so lucky to have her as my editor.

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  24. Welcome, Emily! What a great post! I wish I'd had this advice before I had my first pitch many moons ago. I was so nervous I spewed the whole story, and the editor (who shall remain unnamed--bless her heart!) had to cut me off and try to direct me to give the info she really needed. I was mortified! LOL

    I have to admit, after that I became one who carried a note card with my SHORT pitch to keep me on track. But I always asked questions as well. :)

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  25. Thanks, Glynna, for encouraging everyone to submit once they receive a request. You're right. Too many folks don't follow through.

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  26. Missy, I remember an early pitch where I got totally lost in the back story. Finally, I sighed and said, "Sounds confusing, doesn't it?"

    The editor was very gracious and helped me get back on track. :)

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  27. I have never pitched face-to-face before and am terrified of it. Appreciate the advice. Sounds pretty silly but I'll ask anyway. Does the appearance of the author play into the decision? For instance, if someone dresses very chic and business like vs. someone who dresses more comfortably (Trying to be more comfortable!) does that make a difference to the editor? I know first impressions can be very important.

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  28. Emily, what a great post! One of the things that's helped me over the years is focusing on the 'because' statements in the internal conflict...Like in your example:

    The heroine can't love hero BECAUSE her first husband left her and she doesn't trust men. The hero can't love the heroine BECAUSE he's focused on his work and can't be distracted by love.

    Then I put a post-it note on my computer in case the plot wanders!

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  29. Emily, welcome back to Seekerville. Always good to see you here.

    Wonderful advice on pitching to editors. I remember being so nervous pitching a book at a conference that I complete forgot to mention my hero and heroine fell in love. The editor smiled and simply started an average, everyday conversation with me and in moments, I relaxed and was able to pitch my book.

    Editors are wonderful.

    You're the best : )

    Have a great day here in Seekerville!!!

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  30. RUTHY, I like the way you summed it up: "Be yourself, maybe a better version of yourself." Or something like that. That's what we should do in our social media personae also. Authentic but not sloppy. It's an art.
    JENNY, I wish you were one of my readers! Maybe someday.
    EMILY RODMELL, good advice. Amazing how it all fits together -- that's what we're trying to do as writers, develop relationships. It's about the journey. I too made many pitches imperfect in my past. Last fall I went to a cool event called Pitch-a-Palooza, where these two New York agents go around the country coaching people on their pitches. It was fun. Not a bad thing to do if they're in your area. You have to buy their book, but it's a pretty good book. They listen to pitches and rate them, and give away one introduction to the editor of your choice to the best pitcher. Fun.
    Put me in the drawing, can't have too many LI books.

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  31. CINDY, every conference I ever went to advised "Business casual" for a dress guideline. You want to have fun and make a good impression at the same time. My suggestion, do what feels good to you, if that's a suit and heels fine, but don't go BELOW business casual.
    Kathy Bailey

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  32. Good morning, Emily! Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for your terrific advice for creating a pitch and for talking with an editor. I wish I'd known all this years ago!

    The three questions you suggest writers ask about their stories when creating a pitch are just as useful when we writers are creating a story and want to make sure we're on track.

    Janet

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  33. Good question, Cindy.

    I think looking professional is always a good idea at conferences, but I doubt that clothes ever sold a book. :)

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  34. Love your "BECAUSE" tip, Sherri! Thanks!

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  35. Waving to Audra! You're right. Editors are the best!

    Especially the great editors at Love Inspired.

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  36. Good morning everyone. Thanks for having me. It's always fun to chat with you all.

    To answer a few of the questions I saw:

    The figures on my computer are the characters from the TV show LOST.

    I will be attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference this year and taking pitches.

    And someone's appearance wouldn't keep me from buying a great book, but I'd always recommend looking polished. No need for a suit, but grungy jeans might be a good idea to avoid.

    Jackie, thanks for sharing your pitch. Sounds exciting. Though if it is a romance, I'd recommend getting the romance in the pitch. Right now we know nothing about the hero or romantic conflict.

    Emily

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  37. Kaybee Kathy,

    I've never heard of Pitch-A-Palooza. Sounds interesting and creative. Good for those two agents.

    Thanks for your mention of business casual as a good rule of thumb.

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  38. Hi Janet,
    Just like you, I wish I'd had this information years ago!

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  39. Morning, Emily!

    I've got Starbucks for you today. Thanks for being with us in Seekerville. We all love the information you provided.

    So glad you'll be at ACFW this fall. I'm sure many Villagers plan to pitch to you there. Hopefully, they'll be using your hooks, plot and conflict tips when they meet with you.

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  40. Ah, the "Lost!" characters!!! They looked like Munchkins on my computer, I'm glad someone asked!

    I have learned so much about story development, arc and character depth working with Love Inspired. Learning to "write tight" is important. Emily, do you have advice to authors struggling to tell a strong story in a slightly reduced word count?

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  41. Emily, thank you for this valuable advice which will help me with crafting my perfect pitch!

    I enjoyed your twitter about opening a door for a gentleman pushing his wife's wheelchair. She had a Love Inspired book in her lap. You created a scene of love in all seasons of life. Are you are a writer in addition to being an editor?

    Thank you for being in Seekerville today.

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  42. What a great post! Emily, I appreciate the suggestions you gave, especially for after one has given their pitch. You gave me some good ideas of questions I can ask. Thank you!

    When I pitched for the first time last year, I got to my appointment and I couldn't think of anything to converse about in the beginning. I had one comment, and then it got awkward. So, I dove into my pitch. The appointment was over in less than ten minutes. Sigh. Hopefully, I'll be more prepared this year.

    Do you ladies have suggestions for good ways to open conversation at the beginning of a pitch session?

    I'm not going to share my pitch here, only because it's not in the romance genre.

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  43. Good morning EMILY, Thank you for joining us again in Seekerville. It is always fun to share a peek at your busy life.

    Great tips on pitching. I've always loved to pitch because I learned early on to have a conversation. Its such a pleasure to get to know you editors and know you are real people-smile.

    Love your animal photos in your office and learning that you like animals. Me too.

    Have fun today. And thanks again for joining us.

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  44. DEBBY the breakfast is yummy. Thanks for bringing Emily to Seekerville. Can hardly wait to see you next week.

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  45. Helen - I'm still Snoopy dancing with you in my end of the Ozarks!!!!

    Emily - I love your tweets and you're one of the [very, very] few whose tweets I have sent to my phone via text. I loved the picture with a penguin yesterday!

    Now... this may get me lynched around here, but I LIKE pitching in person. I do much better in person than in query letters, IMO. I get the nerves and tears afterwards when it doesn't go well or when the stress just bleeds off, but I really do enjoy it and getting to know the agent/editor a bit.

    As for LOST... I think I'm going to have to break out the DVDs once the kids go back to school next month. Right now we're laughing our way through I Love Lucy. My kids LOVE them. Good clean fun for the whole family :D.

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  46. Sherida,

    I'm glad you liked that tweet. It was a really sweet moment to see. I'm not officially a writer though I did major in journalism. Maybe one day I'll get around to writing a book of my own.

    Jeanne,
    You don't have to stress over an opening. It's not forced small talk. It can be as simple as introducing yourself and saying how much you enjoy the books that the editor works on. Just think of what you would say if you were introduced to the editor or agent over lunch. You'd make pleasant conversation, rather than jumping into a blurb about your book.

    Jenny, glad to see you looking forward to the Charlotte Carter book. Charlotte recently passed away, and I really hope that people pick up her story. It's her second to last one in a 50+ book career.

    Sandra, I do love animals. In fact, my little sister and I and her son, ate breakfast with live penguins this weekend. Very cool.

    Emily

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  47. Waving hello to Emily! What an informative post. I was blessed to get The Call from her a few years back without having to pitch in person. These tips are fantastic. I took notes on the hooks part. :D

    Good luck to all those preparing pitches!

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  48. The whole idea of pitching to an editor has to be the most terrifying thing I've ever contemplated. Thanks for sharing that nervousness can be felt by the other side as well! Makes you seem almost human. :-)

    At this point I don't have any conference plans :-( but I thought I'd try my hand at pitching to ease out of my fear. Only I couldn't manage 3 sentences. How about 5?

    Self-appointed crusader for marginalized women, Nolan Dauncey is haunted by the violence that brought his childhood to an abrupt end. Over time anger has been tempered by faith but the drive to bring his mother’s killer to justice has not diminished. Enter maverick art-student Phoebe Underhill and her graduate-degree art project, a memorial showcasing cold-case murder victims, which has gained national media attention. Their explosive first meeting sends them on journey of discovery that threatens both their lives and their hearts.

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  49. Oh -- and forgot to say don't enter me in the draw because I've read all but two of those LI titles. :-)

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  50. Check out all the comments already. How exciting.

    Good morning, Emily.

    Tina, I wish I had all this information too. I've pitched a few times at conference. My first pitch was to Leah Hultenschmidt when she was with Dorchester. My first words were, 'Wow, you don't have dragon claws."

    I had been writing less than a year and heard horror stories about how mean editors were. Although it worked for me, I don't suggest opening in such a way.

    Anyway, Emily is super nice. I blessed to have her as my editor, too. I can't wait to see the pitches rolling in.

    What are y'all waiting for? Someone to start?

    I stumble over pitches, too, especially spur of the moment. I'm not really pitching but I know y'all. Most of you won't pitch until someone else starts. ;) So here goes my uber long pitch. I like to keep them under 30 words, not happening here.

    A small town volunteer fire fighter's world is turned upside down when an old girlfriend returns with a mission: to heal the rift between him and the man who ruined his life, his incarcerated twin brother. As they face the past he realizes he wants a future with her but he must convince her he won't push her away again.

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  51. Kav, you did pitch! Yay, for you. Sounds like a suspenseful story.

    All right, what about the rest of you? You know who you are. And I know a couple of you are attending RWA. Might as well practice up. *hint, hint*

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  52. Hi Sherida!

    Feel free to share a short pitch with Emily today.

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  53. Hi Emily,

    Thank you for coming to Seekerville today! Your tips as helpful and I think will help keep me focused and not blather as I pitch.

    Karen was lucky enough not to have to pitch in person, but more and more, I think that for some writers meeting face to face with editors/agents puts a piece of the puzzle in place for both. It worked for Ruthy and I hope it will benefit me next week. There are two agents coming to RWA who have my fulls. I'm not scheduled to pitch to them, but I will make sure to say hello if I get an opportunity.

    Piper

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  54. Hi Jeanne,

    IMHO, ending the pitch session before the ten minute deadline isn't a problem. I'm sure the editors enjoy having a few minutes to relax between appointments. Also it gives them an opportunity to reflect on the great story you just pitched! :)

    Emily, do you jot down notes about the pitches you've heard?

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  55. Waving to Sandra!

    I can't believe the RWA National Conference will be next week.

    Shameless plug for our Seekerville workshop, Thursday at 8:30 AM. :)

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  56. Emily, you mentioned asking questions. Supposedly the author has done her homework and knows something about the house, so what sorts of questions would you suggest? Unless you asked specific questions about your plot? That's difficult because presumably you've got the manuscript finished.

    Thanks.

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  57. Always nice to see you stop by, Emily. :) I always read your read your posts to get a refresher on what you're looking for (just to see if anything's changed! :)) and to get ideas for the next proposal.

    Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW!

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  58. Piper, I think being a Golden Heart finalist will help you out by leaps and bounds too.

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  59. Hi Emily,

    Great advice, thank you! Although I'm not pitching to LI at the conference, I'm pitching a long historical. Trying to get a 110,000 word book into a few sentences is harder than almost anything. But I will persevere.

    Two years ago I pitched for the first time and I found having a one-sheet gave me confidence and a prop to take some of the attention off my words!

    Kav, I love your pitch!! It sounds awesome.

    Oh, and don't enter me in the draw either. I've read almost all the books there!

    Cheers & Happy Pitching,
    Sue

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  60. Carol, glad you enjoy pitching. You're right. Great way to get to know an editor.

    Will you change your pitch "technique" after reading Emily's post? Plan to do anything differently in the future?

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  61. Live penguins, Emily?

    Sea World in Orlando, perhaps? Or the NYC zoo?

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  62. If anyone is thinking about targeting Love Inspired, you will find the line's editors a pleasure to work with. The three LI editors who've worked on my books--Melissa Endlich, Emily and Tina James--are wonderful!

    Janet

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  63. Hi Karen. Thanks for stopping by to say hello to Emily!

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  64. Christina,

    I hope so! It might make it easier to start up conversations with people!

    *Waves to the Seekers* I will be there for the panel, who else is coming?

    Piper

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  65. Kav, thanks for your support of LI and Seekerville!

    Thanks, too, for sharing your blurb. I'm eager to see what Emily has to say.

    FYI: The conflict increases if the hero doesn't want any publicity about the cold case crime. Just my two cents given with lots of love.

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  66. Hello to all my authors. It's a please to work with you all, Karen, Christine, Lynette, Debby, Audra & Missy. If also gotten to work with Glynna on a continuity series, so hello as well. :)

    Kav & Christina, glad to see you sharing your pitches. They look good. Kav, I'd recommend getting the romantic conflict in there somewhere. What's keeping them from falling in love? Perhaps instead of the last sentence.

    SusanD, as far as questions. You don't need to make up ones that won't help you just so you can have something to ask. But do take advantage of the opportunity. Even if your book is finished that hopefully doesn't mean you'll never write another one. So think long term. Ask the editor what type of books they'd love to see. Ask if there are any time periods that they're looking for if you write historical. Ask what their pet peeves are. Basically ask questions that could give you an advantage in the future. It's your one chance for insider info.

    Emily

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  67. Debby -

    I don't think so. Emily's got fabulous advice here [speaking as someone who's gotten requests from almost every in person pitch [and the one flat out no request was still a lovely meeting/no thank you] but no agent/sales as yet]. I've read enough here and other places, as well as talked with friends [like Seekers and Villagers!] about what to expect, so I felt well prepared.

    I reviewed Linda Rohrbough's Pitch Your Book App which helped A LOT with that three sentence pitch [yeah, I'm working on one to toss out today].

    Now, whether or not those meetings actually turn into anything... that remains to be seen ;). ACFW is 65 days away after all...

    Um, not that I'm counting...

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  68. Christina, thanks for adding your pitch!

    My hat's off to all firefighters, especially after the Arizona tragedy last week.

    Would love your pitch to end with mention of the hero's struggle to reconcile with bro as the stumbling block to the romance.

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  69. Piper, so glad you'll be at RWA!!! Looking forward to seeing you. Be sure to stop by my table at the literacy signing WED so I can give you a big hug!

    Two agents! Way to go, Piper!

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  70. Susan, sounds like you always do your homework. Good tip for all of us to remember.

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  71. Waving to Lynette. Glad you'll be at RWA! See you in Atlanta.

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  72. Christina, thanks for mentioning Piper's Golden Heart final!

    That gold heart pin will look stunning on your RWA name tag, Piper.

    I'll also be drooling over Missy's RITA pin. :)

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  73. Hello, Emily. Yes, the post is very helpful even after the dozen or so pitch sessions I've attended. I know I was shaking through my first one. And second. And...well... It's not the people that scare me, but that I'll draw a blank when questioned.

    My agent would like me to pitch to you in Indy, so hopefully I'll be chosen as one of your pitchers.

    I've learned oodles in the past few years, got 'the call', and completed my first contract, and it's still my dream to write for LIH.

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  74. Okay, deep breath.

    A doctor, trained in the new field of pediatrics and determined to break down barriers, finds herself butting heads with a scarred US Park policeman, secretly sworn to protect her, when she moves to bustling Washington DC during the height of WWII. Long held secrets and prejudices of the day threaten to keep them apart but they find love overcomes the darkest of times.

    Sigh. This still seems long or too much or something.

    The post is great! Going in my keeper file for sure.

    No need to put me in for the books. I have them!

    Peace, Julie

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  75. Oh, and to answer Debby's questions. The penguins were from a "Breakfast with the Penguins" event at The Maryland Zoo

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  76. Hi Susan Mason,

    Can you use some of Emily's tips to write the blurb for your single title?

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  77. PS. Will be there at RWA too! Can't wait.

    Peace, Julie

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  78. Thanks Debby! I will be there on Wednesday at the signing, but I may see you before that at the FHL meeting!

    Ok, I will put my pitch out there. Here goes:

    In 1935, aptly-named Champion Bates is an up and coming Negro contender who harbors a secret—he could lose his eyesight if he keeps boxing. He’s tormented by a love lost--at the moment of their elopement, he abandoned his childhood sweetheart, Cordelia “Delie” Bledsoe for his career. Seven years later, Delie needs help to sustain her orphan’s home; to prove his love, he will fight one more time to prove he has A Champion’s Heart.

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  79. These are such great pointers, Emily.
    Thank you so much. Pitching to an editor is so NERVE RACKING!
    It's funny to hear you say you were nervous. :)
    My advice, on top of all that Emily has said ... when the editor speaks, LISTEN.
    It's so easy to be almost desperate to sell your book but if the editor starts talking, telling you what she wants or why what you've pitched isn't working LISTEN!! You are sitting with someone with a lot of knowledge and this is a wonderful chance to learn.

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  80. Ditto to Janet's comment about the pleasure of working with LI editors!

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  81. nerve wracking?
    I just googled it, hate posting a comment with typos to an editor!!!

    Google can't decide which is right either!!!!

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  82. Piper, thanks for supporting us always...especially at 8:30 AM on the first day of the RWA workshops. :)

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  83. Great examples of questions for the editor, Emily.

    Mind telling us what type of stories you'd like to see in the future? Any pet peeves?

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  84. Carol, only 65 days until ACFW? Really?

    Glad you're working on a blurb for Emily...

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  85. Hi Leslie Garcia! Thanks for stopping by today.

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  86. Oh, Anita, I want your dream to come true. Would love to see your stories in the LI lineup!

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  87. Hey Peeps I brought some fresh cinnamon crust cheesecake to add some chill to a lovely summer day! And some fresh sweet tea!

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  88. Hi, Emily! Thanks so much for sharing this excellent advice with our Seekervillagers today! I was one of those "nervous Nellies" at my very first pitch several years ago. I can't exactly say it gets easier with practice, but it has helped tremendously to remember editors and agents are human beings just like us. Treating the appointment as a friendly conversation and exchange of ideas is MUCH easier than trying to recite a memorized pitch!

    Here's a question: Concerning acquisitions, are the Love Inspired and Heartsong Presents lines treated as separate entities? In other words, when someone pitches to you at a conference, are you considering for LI only, or are you also representing HP?

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  89. Julie,

    Thanks for sharing. I'd be more specific on what is keeping them apart. Also, why does the heroine need protecting. You want to be as specific as possible in as little words as possible. Vague generalities don't help the editor see what the book is truly about. But you did a nice job of mentioning some hooks of the story.

    Piper, Thanks for sharing your pitch. I know I've looked at that story in the past. Great set up. Maybe be more specific in how he is going to help her (i.e. fighting to win money to give her).

    Emily

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  90. I saw lots of conflict in your pitch, Julie! Plus you included the WWII hook.

    Great!!!

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  91. Debby,

    I'm glad you asked what we're looking for. Right now Love Inspired is focusing mainly on finding great, fast paced romantic suspense stories for our Love Inspired Suspense line. This is the big opportunity. LIS submissions get faster turnaround and we're more open to taking chances on different stories. If you have one, we'd love to see it.

    We also always want Western stories for LIH, and love small town and Amish stories for LI.

    Emily

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  92. Julie, can't wait to see you next week.

    Any plans for M&M in the fall?

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  93. Myra,

    Though Heartsong is under the Love Inspired umbrella. The Love Inspired editors do not aquire for it. All acquisitions go through the Heartsong editor Kathy Davis. She will be at ACFW this year as well. So authors can pitch directly to her.

    Emily

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  94. Piper, you included lots of conflict, which I love! Is this the story that finaled in the GH?

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  95. Great point, Mary!

    Listen to the editor! She/he knows the market and what the readers want.

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  96. Thanks, Ruthy, for the yummy goodies.

    The sun is shining in my part of Georgia at the moment. First time in over a week!

    Goodbye rain. Hello sunshine.

    I'm smiling.

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  97. Such great advice! I'm working on my pitches right now and really am a little overwhelmed by the thought. Your practical advice will make it much easier. How I wish I could tell myself, 'don't be nervous!' and it actually work! LOL Thanks so much!

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  98. Debby you know that is the middle of the day for me! Of course I will be there! And yes, this is my GH-nominated story.

    Thank you Emily for the suggestion, even though I know you've seen the story before. I appreciate the help.

    Piper

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  99. Great post--super helpful as I prepare for conference.

    I had a wonderful pitch session with a LI editor at RWA last year. It was my first pitch, so I was quite nervous, but she was so kind, the appointment was a pleasure.

    Thank you for the tips! I'm saving them!

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  100. Just "found" Keli's comment.

    Sorry I skipped by you earlier this morning.

    Thanks for asking Emily about the characters on her computer and for your nice comments about our lovely LI editors! :)

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  101. Great question, Myra, about the LI and Heartsong Presents lines.

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  102. Thanks, Emily, for letting us know what you're looking for in all three lines.

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  103. Thanks, Emily. I guess I feared getting too much into back story. Thanks for the advice.

    Debby, I am probably only going to be able to do RWA this summer but M and M is on my list for next year.

    Peace, Julie

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  104. Zanne, if you've got something ready, share it with us today. This is a great opportunity to get advice from Emily.

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  105. Hi Susie,

    So glad you'll be at RWA. Do you have a blurb to share with us today?

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  106. I didn't bring my coffee to the breakfast this morning--I'm the crazy girl who brought iced kombucha. But what a fun way to kick off the morning!

    Thanks for all the great advice and tips, Emily! I think the pointers in here are great reminders for all of us--pre-published AND published. Circumstances may shift slightly, but you never stop pitching stories to an editor if you are moving forward in your writing career. :)

    And I will definitely second all the warm fuzzies about the LI team! Everyone I have worked with is so wonderful and I feel so blessed to be part of the LI family. If you're a pre-published writer targeting LI, you'll definitely be in good hands! :)

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  107. Good morning, Emily!

    I loved this comment: "Treat the pitch as a conversation rather than a speech."

    When I made my first pitch at ACFW last year, I enjoyed the conversation I was having with the editor so much that I almost forgot to tell her about my book. Lesson learned: stay on topic :)

    I don't have anything to pitch right now, but I'm enjoying reading the ones other people are leaving in the comments.

    Thanks for coming today!

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  108. Helen, is the coffee pot full? I need caffeine! ;-)

    This is great info even if you're not pitching. I've pitched once and got a request for a partial. I never sent it in because the line changed. I pitched a 55-60K book and the line changed to 85K. There just weren't 85K words in that story. I'm hoping Boroughs will be interested in taking a look at it.

    Speaking of which, the Round 3 finalists will be announced later today. I'm a wreck. I have to work, write, promote (if I make it to the next round) AND get ready for the RWA conference. At least it's just me in this apartment and I'm not a slob so housecleaning in a breeze.

    Speaking of the RWA conference, who in here is going? I'd love to meet you. I can see the authors at the lit signing and at publisher signings, but the rest of you? If I'm staring at your chest, I'm not staring at your "chest" I'm looking at your name!

    Marilyn

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  109. Man, this is good stuff. Thanks. Must go read this again!

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  111. Debby - the "days until" app on my phone says it's 65 days and 22 hours until we pull out of the Panera parking lot for Indy. /waves to travel buddy Helen/

    But here we go - many thanks to Melanie Dickerson for helping me with this already this morning... This is for my newest WIP.

    A tweet from Emily about unusual/different occupations a while ago got me thinking about what one could be which is where the whole thing came from.

    An Ozarks woodcutter with an MBA, Jake would rather do just about anything except run the family firewood business. A big city girl to the core, web designer Annie doesn't believe anyone is genuine enough to help MeeMaw fix her farm's tornado damage without fleecing the elderly woman - after all, that's how Annie's father lost her college fund. When Jake's company wins a web makeover, he does everything he can to prevent her from realizing the weekend handyman helping her grandmother is really just the firewood guy. His secret combined with Annie's mistrust of men in general, and handymen in particular, threatens their blossoming romance more than the deadly EF5 headed for their small town.

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  112. Kristen, thanks for joining us in praise of LI and the wonderful LI editors!

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  113. Smiling at your pitch story, Jan!

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  114. Waving to Marilyn.

    Seeker Villagers at RWA?

    Piper, Susie, Julie Hilton Steele, Mary Curry...

    Who am I missing?

    Keep us posted on the Round 3 results, Marilyn.

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  115. Thanks for the input Emily and Debby! I think I'm finally cluing in to what an editor is looking for. Obviously if I'm pitching to a LI editor, they would know I'm pitching a romance so looking for the love conflict makes sense. Back to the drawing board!

    Oh -- and a question. Does one use a written pitch when submitting a ms to Harlequin?

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  116. Thanks for sharing your blurb, Carol.

    Is Jake's company that won the web makeover actually the firewood business? Or does he run another company on the side?

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  117. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  118. It's his family's firewood business, but he's been running it since his father's back injury a couple years earlier.

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  119. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  120. I'm taking my coffee black today as I read somewhere that drinking your coffee black helps you lose weight and I have a target level that I'm trying to break through before Nationals next week.

    Emily, in one of your responses, you said there is no need for a suit. I've always worn coat and tie for my pitches, then changed afterwards. Does your no suit suggestion apply to males as well?

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  121. Thanks for the advice, Emily. It'll come in handy next week. I always try not to be nervous, but it's hard. For some reason pitching always makes me feel like I'm on a job interview.

    Seekers- another great post. Thanks for sharing it.

    I don't do coffee so I'll stick with my bottle of water. Breakfast as always has been wonderful, especially the virtual calories which don't hang around. :)

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  122. Dianna, glad you're going to RWA too!

    Adding Walt and Dianna to our list of Villagers at RWA!

    Smiling at your job interview comment. Actually you're selling your product so it's more like a sales meeting. :)

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  123. I've been following Emily on Twitter for well over a year and she's one of the few whose tweets go to my phone. My whole family knows who she is and that she loves animals and is a REAL person--someone it'd be fun to sit and visit with. But I still almost vibrated off my desk chair at the Happily Editor After pitch session. I was so nervous that it's a good thing I did a screen shot of Emily's response because I couldn't remember what she'd said--I was concerned about not getting lost in the different chat rooms. LoL. Chat rooms do that to me. *eye roll*

    These tips are very helpful and I'll be copying them off to help as I send in what was requested. =]

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  124. Patty, love the visual of you vibrating off your chair...almost! Too cute!

    A request from Emily!!! YAY, Patty!!!

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  125. Here's my pitch for a new contemporary story I've started. I would love some feedback!
    **
    Tenacious real-estate developer Bryce Maguire must challenge historic renovator Mickey Hanson as well as confront the mother who abandoned him in the small mountain town of Anderson Mills, North Carolina in order to save his company. Their battle over the development of a one hundred-year- old abandoned church building parallels their battle to deny the growing respect and love they feel for each other.

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  126. It’s Too Late at Pitch Time!

    Hi Emily:

    Reading your comments about what needs to be in a pitch covers points that I write about being ‘Marketing Vitamins’ that should be built into the story before the author writes the first word.

    Reading what you wrote here is like reading the score sheet before preparing an entry for a writing contest.

    A writer should come up with a great pitch first. Then check it with your pitch recommendations. Then make it even better. Make it so good you can't wait to give the pitch live and in person. Be like the excited child who can’t sleep at night waiting for Christmas morning to come! (That’s the kind of nervous energy you want.)

    To do this you have to plot! Or at least have a ‘pitch plot’ – those are the elements that must be in the story so they can be in your fantastic pitch. If you pantser, you can’t be sure what you have until you’re done. It’s like passing at 2,100 page congressional bill before you get a chance to read it. You might luck out and have the elements for a great pitch and you might not luck out and the reason you don’t have a great pitch is because you don’t have a great story to pitch. If my pitch lacked essential elements, as you covered them, then I’d be nervous too.

    Do you have any suggestions, as an editor, that can help lead more pantsers to plot?

    As a marketing person I want a lot of great features to be built into the story. A great location, interesting characters doing interesting things, inside looks at careers readers will find interesting (independent of the story’s merit).

    Here’s a question you might comment upon:

    “How much reading enjoyment is left in your novel if the plot is not taken into consideration?”

    I call this ‘intrinsic’ reading enjoyment.

    Are the settings breathtaking?

    Are the characters fun and memorable as individuals in themselves and not just as part of the story?

    Does your writing sparkle with originality regardless of what you are writing about at the moment?

    Does the reader learn a lot about a location, hobby, or career field, which is interesting in itself -- even if it were not part of a story?

    What I like is a story that is worth reading and fully enjoyable for just the accoutrements alone. Doing this takes a plan.

    A great pitch is born long before the first word of the novel is written. It also saves a lot of time if you don’t have to layer in essential elements after the full manuscript is completed.

    While Pantsers have more fun, Plotters are about seeing the right things get done.

    Vince

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  127. This is a keeper. Thank you, Emily, for these tips. I plan to pitch at a conference early Aug. It's been so long since the last one. And thanks to all who gave advice on pitching. I've used a one sheet in the past. Having it helped me feel more confident, but still nervous just the same.

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  128. WOW, WHAT A BLOCKBUSTER POST TODAY!!!

    A HUGE Seeker welcome to one of our favorite guests -- Emily Rodmell and the LI editors!!

    Sure wish I'd had this blog when I was pitching ... :|

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  129. Carol,

    The tornado aspect sounds interesting. I'm a little confused as to why it's a problem that he runs a firewood business. Why would he need to keep it from her? Also, the conflict seems all internal. Is there external conflict as well? Thanks for sharing.

    Kav,
    If you're submitting to Harlequin outside of an editor appointment, you'd use a cover letter. So there's be a tad more room to expound. Though it's always great to have a short blurb ready.

    Emily

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  130. Walt,

    If you like wearing a suit, that's great. It can never hurt to look professional. I'm just saying that no editor would penalize someone for wearing business casual. If you walked in and were wearing a muscle tank or something, that's another story.

    Patty and all who've mentioned Twitter,
    I'm glad to see that some of my tweets are helpful. I find social media fascinating. There are 5 LI editors on Twitter these days (Melissa Endlich, Shana Smith, Giselle Regus, Emily Brown and me) so follow us for an insider look at publishing. Following me will also get you cute animal pics and the occasional indulgent pic of my adorable nephew.

    Emily

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  131. Dianna,

    Thanks for sharing your pitch. One thing I will say right off the bat is that I have no idea who is the heroine and who is the hero. Androgynous names can be confusing. But looks good otherwise.

    Vince,

    I do think plotting is important, even if it's just a loose guideline. Because you want to have a defined story arc to keep the book on track. If writing from a detailed synopsis isn't your style, I'd say at least define what your goals, motivations and conflicts are and make sure that each scene moves them forward to resolution and isn't just filler.

    Emily

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  132. Great Advice!
    I'm looking forward to pitching (stories) and not fits at ACFW. And I hope to meet you in person sometime, Emily.

    I wish you all a wonderful time at RWA!

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  133. Emily, Thanks for the instructive post. When I represented the Book Club Network recently at Blue Ridge, I got a little taste of the other side of the table and it was an eye opener. I love talking with people but something about giving those details about the book seems to scramble my brain. I had one editor tell me, "You have an agent--why don't you just let her do it?" I must have really mangled that pitch.

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  134. I'm laughing at Vince!!!!

    Vince, you plotter! I think there is a thing as being too prepared when you go into a pitch.

    I like the idea of envisioning a lunch table, and normal chatter. The pitch comes when the editor says, "Tell me about your book."

    Do I study editors before meeting them? Of course. But not STALKING... Mostly. And so often the book is already written, that you really just need to be able to answer questions.

    Vince you can pitch to me, though! I'll sit and have coffee and pizza with you and we can talk writing ALL THE DAY LONG!!!! And we'd both love it!

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  135. I'd appreciate any thoughts on my pitch!

    Turquoise Promise

    Because of his promise to keep his sister's gallery open, Ben Abeya, a member of the San Cristobal Pueblo, is determined to stop Kira Harmon's Seattle investment firm from demolishing the building leased by the gallery. During negotiations in Santa Fe, Kira and Ben fall in love despite there different backgrounds. Ben's family provides the warmth and strong faith Kira has missed. Kira is able to arrange for Ben to do restoration work on the adobe building so the gallery can remain in its location and still provide a profitable investment for her father's company.

    I'm off to take visitors to the airport. I'll check in later. Thank you so much for your help!

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  136. Love all the advise. Emily's feedback is so good. As a writers, we have to be open to changing or incorporating new ideas into our stories, or even reordering events, if it means the final product is stronger and better. As I pitch at RWA, I'll keep the "conversation aspect" in mind.

    Vanessa Riley

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  137. Thank you, Debby. Your support and the rest of the Seekers and Seeker Villagers mean a lot.

    Ruthy, I have never had Cinnamon Crust Cheesecake, but it sounds scrumptious. (*holds out her plate)

    :D

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  138. Hi Debby,

    My hero is the heroine's personal lawyer. At first she thinks he is part of the problem. When they clear that up they work together to break up the conspiracy and fall in love along the way.

    I know that's too long for a real pitch, but I'll work to tighten it all up.

    Thanks for asking.
    Jackie

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  139. What do you all think about this? Too long?


    When Lainey Williams moves to Lexington, Kentucky, she looks forward to living close to her grandmother and starting a new job. She is dismayed when she finds her grandmother unconscious. After digging for answers she discovers a scheme between Lizon Insurance Company and a national law firm preventing people from taking a new diabetic medication.
    With the help of Blake Thompson, a local attorney, Lainey begins to search for answers. The more they dig, the more threats they receive. Even though their lives are in danger, they won't back down. They are determined to help those who can’t fight this battle, and along the way they just might fall in love.

    Thanks for looking at this.
    What a great day!
    Jackie

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  140. Sorry I had to be away from my computer longer than expected!!!

    But I'm back...

    Also brought ice cream with all the toppings so fix a sundae and enjoy!

    The sun is still shining in Georgia! Amazing!

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  141. Thanks for all of the great information, Emily.

    Here's my pitch

    England 1800: Abandoned at the alter by the son of a Baron, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist decides to reject marriage and instead concentrate on what she feels God has called her to do. She will build a school for poor children. Standing in her way is her fiancé’s brother. The impoverished nobleman is determined to marry his brother’s abandoned bride and reclaim his family’s honor.

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  142. Yay, my workshop ended early so I got to come home and catch up on the conversation.

    You all have been chatty, but I don't think anyone asked this question yet.

    Emily, I know One Sheets are a big thing at ACFW, but I don't ever remember hearing about them at RWA. Is a one sheet something an editor appreciates no matter the conference, or is it pretty much just typical of ACFW?

    Thanks!!

    I'm sorry you won't be at RWA this year.

    Looking forward to seeing all my Seeker friends next week. 8:30 workshop, eh? Okay, Seekerville. Only for you!

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  143. EMILY and DEBBY—Thanks for the thoughts. :) They help!

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  144. Hi Vince,
    I don't think about the pitch when I brainstorm a story. I do, however, think about the GMC. IMHO, conflict, both internal and external, is the key to developing compelling characters and intriguing stories.

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  145. Sherida,

    It does sound like there is a good conflict in yours. A few things aren't clear. Is his sister dead? What kind of gallery? The last sentence is a bit anticlimactic. Let's hear about the juicy conflict rather than the resolution.

    Jackie,
    I'd focus yours a bit more. What are the hooks of the story? Play them up.

    Writermama,
    Looks like you're off to a good start. Play up the conflict and the hooks a bit, and you'll have a great pitch.

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  146. Mary,

    One sheets seem to be an ACFW thing. I've never gotten them anywhere else.

    Emily

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  147. Pat, don't be nervous. As Emily mentioned, think of the pitch as having a conversation with the editor. Practice at home until you feel comfortable discussing your story. Have a friend sit in as a "mock" editor. A few dry runs will help ease your anxiety.

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  148. LOL, Deb Marvin, at "pitching" fits, which aren't allowed in Seekerville.

    See you at ACFW? Hope so!

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  149. Welcome Emily, and thank you SO much for this post. Even though I've attended several conferences and have pitched to editors from various publishing houses, I have always been too jittery. So your tips and examples are a HUGE help!

    I hope to meet you at the ACFW Conference in September. Thanks again for taking time to be with
    us today!
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo Moore

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  150. Carrie, we've all been there with the poor pitches that didn't work. :)

    Glad we now have Emily's blog as a reference!

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  151. Sherida, I'd like to see more conflict, as Emily mentioned. Love the pueblo tie-in though. Interesting.

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  152. Good luck with your pitch, Vanessa. Let us know how you do, and be sure to stop by the literacy signing and say hello!

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  153. I'm enjoying the pitches! And it's fun to hear the feedback from Emily. Really helpful.

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  154. Jackie,
    I like that she thinks he's part of the problem...good conflict. Be sure to include it in your pitch!

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  155. Mary Curry, so glad you're home early! Will chocolate help if you attend our Seekerville Early Bird workshop? Hmmm?

    Good question about One Sheets. I had never heard of them until I attended my first ACFW Conference. Wonder how they got started?

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  156. Thank you for your input, Emily! This one is still very much a "WIP" in every sense of the acronym!

    Jake probably doesn't need to keep his job as a firewood guy from her, and the job itself probably won't matter much to her [other than the not entirely upfront with her aspect of it and she has no intention of moving to Small Town Ozarks, USA]. But he always felt he was meant to do "more" than "just" run the family tree cutting/firewood business. He feels he was forced into it by his father's back injury and resents that, especially since it led to his fiancee calling off the wedding.


    [Think Josh in Janette Oke's Seasons of the Heart series for those familiar with it - he tries to figure out what God wants him to do with his life while helping his Grandpa/Great Uncle fix up the farm. It eventually smacks him upside the head - maybe he's supposed to farm.]

    As for the external conflict... His ex has realized the grass isn't always greener and wants him back. Annie is planning to return the big city after spending her vacation with her grandmother.

    Hopefully by the time ACFW rolls around, it'll be in much better shape. More complete manuscript. Tighter pitch. And I really do think I pitch much better in person... Plus I bring cookies...

    [I'm about the direct opposite of Vince - I did some plotting this weekend and now have an earache - doc appt in the morning - I'm inclined to blame the plotting.]

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  157. Emily, I'm watching the clock and know you'll be leaving the office soon.

    Thank you!
    Thank you!
    Thank you!

    You've provided great information about turning our pitches from "drab to fab!"

    We can't thank you enough for all your help and for spending the day with us!

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  158. Patti Jo, aren't you going to RWA? Looking forward to seeing you there!

    Did you bake anything today? :)

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  159. LOL, Carol! Plotting causes earaches, eh?

    Too funny...the comment, not the earache. Hope you feel better soon!

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  160. Wow, Seekerville is hopping! No wonder! This is a great opportunity to get Emily's reaction to your pitch and nail it before conference! Thanks, Emily!

    I'm excited that several Villagers will be in Atlanta!

    Janet

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  161. Thanks for having me today Seekerville and Debby for hosting. It was a pleasure to chat with you all. I hope this has been helpful and that you wow the editors and agents at your next conference with your pitch.

    If you want to make my day, write me a fast paced, exciting, non-cliched inspirational romantic suspense book with equal parts romance and danger/suspense and pitch it to me at ACFW. ;)

    If you have any questions later, you can find me on Twitter @EmilyRodmell and I may pop back in tomorrow here to catch any latecomers.

    Happy pitching.

    Emily

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  162. Carol, I actually like MBA guys who leave the big corporations to follow their heart and take over their dads' small town businesses. I also like when the big city heroine thinks she's happy until she returns home and finds her roots. Of course, at first she thinks the firewood man is on the take like the guys who scammed her dad. The hero's sure she wants the glam life with the big paycheck. Eventually, she learns there's more to the guy who chops wood than big biceps, and he learns that she has a heart of gold, which is much more important than a big bank account. :)

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  163. Enjoy your evening, Emily.

    It's been a great day in Seekerville thanks to you!

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  164. Emily, I see I just missed you, but in case you check in tomorrow -
    Awhile back on Twitter you mentioned that you'd love to see something WitSec similar to In Plain Sight.

    Then I saw that LIS had something similar in the pipeline.

    Is that still a topic that's of interest?

    Thanks so much for spending time with us today.



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  165. This is a very informative post! Thanks Emily. I'd love to be put in for the drawing. Thanks!

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  166. Thank you so much for your time today, Emily!!!

    Debby - I'm loving Jake so much already and I'm not that far in yet. Working on finishing two other projects, that are closer to the "polishing" stage, then diving into this one. Can't wait to!

    Debby - will you be at ACFW?

    Who else will be?!

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  167. Debby Im not as tired as I was its just I tire by night. I am not exhausted in the day as I use to be but by 7.30ish I am tired and often in bed still by 9 - 9.30. I tend to wake early and up around 6 most days. The wrist is slowly improving which I think has added to more energy. I still have issues with it and need to wear the brace a lot of the time but its much improved on what it was. Time for a walk in the chilly frost.

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  168. Debby, thanks SO much for hosting Emily here today---GREAT post!

    Yes, I'm going to RWA (my very first time, so I'll probably be in a daze, LOL).

    And even though it's late afternoon, I've brought a Georgia Peach cobbler if anyone needs a snack (or dessert after supper).
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  169. Another good questions, Mary Curry! Did you hear they were doing a continuity?

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  170. Sally, you ARE in the drawing!!!

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  171. Hi Emily:

    I have a suggestion that could help everyone make better pitches.

    Could you create a ‘pitch score sheet’ like they have for writing contests? That would be in a language and format everyone who goes the contest route will understand. They could even have CPs grade their pitches. If no editor has done this yet, you could own the position in writers' minds as the leading expert. Why the word would be out, "Be sure to pick up a copy of Emily Rodmell's Pitch Score Sheet."

    Pop it at the biggest conferences.

    That's how positioning works.

    Vince

    P.S. I never stop marketing.

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  172. Yes, I'll be at ACFW. So glad you're going again this year.

    BTW, I got carried away with that very stereotypical blurb about my MBA hero and the city gal! But it's the type of story I love...not that it's the story you want to write. Nor should you write a story that doesn't go in the direction you want. What was I thinking? Guess I was carried away with all that talk yesterday of being a Rock Star. :)

    Where's Vince?

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  173. Jenny, glad the wrist is mending. Enjoy your walk.

    We're hot in Atlanta today. Just got back from a walk and I'm drenched!

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  174. Patti Jo, I was hoping you'd bake something peachy for Seekerville!

    Thank you!

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  175. Vince, you're amazing!

    Why don't you write the pitch score sheet? Include it in one of your books or workshops.

    Something to consider!

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  176. BTW, the Georgia Romance Writers host a Pitch Workshop for all those attending their Moonlight and Magnolias Conference. It's held early the morning the conference begins. Published authors work with those who sit at their tables. IMO, it's a great way to prepare for the editor/agent appointments later in the day.

    I'll be sure to include many of Emily's tips when I help the folks at my table this fall.

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  177. Hi Carol:

    I just love your comment;

    [ |’m about the direct opposite of Vince - I did some plotting this weekend and now have an earache - doc appt in the morning - I'm inclined to blame the plotting.]

    Yes. Yes. And Yes!

    It was the plotting. Plotting causes more headaches, earaches, and frustration than men do!

    You see, when you pantser you can believe for the longest time that you have one of the best romances ever written. And it is possible that you do! But a plotter has to work the story out to the end and it does not take long to discover that the story is nothing special! This knowledge can cause headaches, earaches, even depression and writer’s block. Plotting is not easy. It's not fun. It's not romantic. But it's like a truth mirror! It will tell you if your story is the fairest of them all.

    It is so much more blissful to be a pantser who dances into the future with joy and unbridled optimism. Of course, when you hit the 'sagging middle', a time when you have already closed off half the options that may have been needed to make your story really great, then you begin to wonder and worry. Then you ask you CP's to save the story.

    It comes down to this: do you want lots of headaches up front or do you want a story that may not sell after months or even years of hard work?

    You can pay now or you can pay later. Or if you're a great pantser, you may not have to pay at all.

    No pain, no gain. Bite the bullet and at least try plotting. And don’t forget to read the Plotter/Pantser posts on Seekerville, July 31 and August 1st. The pants you save may be your own.

    Vince

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  178. Hi Debby:

    You wrote:

    "Why don't you write the pitch score sheet? Include it in one of your books or workshops.”


    It needs to be written by an expert. It needs at least ten categories to be judged. I would not know what these are. It needs to look and feel like an expert wrote it. It needs to be the real thing with suggestions that only a real editor would think about. I’m not even sure this can be done in so much detail but if it could be, then I think most writers would want a copy. That would be very good for the creating editor's reputation and name recognition.

    Vince

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  179. Note to self: Send my good friend VINCE!!!! a copy of The Road Less Traveled.....

    :)

    You champion of plotters, you! I love your enthusiasm, it makes my day! And then I go write the story as it comes to me, LOL!

    But remember, there is a method to every pantser's madness. Because I have to have a general idea of where a book's going. Or they won't okay me to write it and send me my advance. So there is some plotting that goes on for me.

    BUT THEN... I use the scientific principle of action/reaction: Every thing that happens in nature will have an equal and opposite reaction.

    So I look at scenes, chapters, and emotions that way because that makes perfect sense to me.

    "If P, Then Q"... But to spend time charting, GMC-ing, planning, poster boards and yes... even your Scriv-friend.... Or studying manuals... that part doesn't do it for this pantser. I do post virtual post-its on my desktop to remind me of things I need to revisit or tweak as I go. And I keep a running tab of those at the end of the book too, so that as something inspires me... a church reading, a song, a commercial, a small child's reaction that might fit that story... I document it at the end of the file and then I erase them as I use them.

    It always amazes me how the Holy Spirit simply wafts ideas and thoughts for the book in progress or book to come as long as I keep an open ear for it!

    I love that!

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  180. Wow. What an information day.

    I've been out of pocket all day so just now checking. I may send in a late pitch later.

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  181. So to pitch a book, you don't necessarily have to have the book completed. Is that correct? I guess my fear would be to pitch a book and then not be ready. I am so GREEN and am just working at learning the craft that pitching to me is somewhere in the future. This post is helpful too. I also loved Vince's comments about Pansters and Plotters. I find that I started as a Panster but I am now trying to work at plotting.

    Smiles,
    Cindy W.

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  182. Emily, thanks for your great tips. At my first conference I was obviously so nervous the agent took my 'one sheet' from my shaking hand and began by asking me questions, which really helped get me focused.

    I think, as you've suggested, if we remember the editor or agent is an ordinary person simply doing her job, the session will be much more relaxed. I love your comment that "your entire career doesn’t depend on this one pitch session." So true, but that's not what I thought at the time!

    I'll be pitching again in the fall at the Surrey Int'l Conference but am not quite ready to toss anything out here. You can be sure I'll keep this post on hand to review before I head out. :)

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  183. I did hear about the continuity, Debby! That's one reason I wondered if they're still open to the idea or if it's done enough.

    So long as there's coffee to go with that chocolate, I'm good. See you in a week.

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  184. Responding to Vince's comment to Carol!

    Yes! Plotters have headaches at the beginning, but hopefully no saggy middles. Pantsers can get into trouble quickly.

    Just my two cents.

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  185. Vince,

    You've sold me. Emily needs to write the Pitch Score Sheet, if she chooses to do so!

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  186. Thanks so much for the awesome advice, Emily!Hope you have a great time at the conference and keep posting all those tweets. We enjoy reading. :-)

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  187. Ruthy, you're a plotter, but you plot in your head because you're so smart!

    I want to be you when I grow up! :)

    Hugs!

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  188. Connie,

    Emily said she may stop by tomorrow so send that pitch! Now! :)

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  189. Cindy,

    A good rule of thumb is to finish the story before you pitch. Otherwise you have to hustle-bustle if the editor requests to see your manuscript. Better to take the time and finish the manuscript before you try to sell your "product." Capisce?

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  190. Carol, you'll do a great job in the fall with your next pitch! I'm sure of it.

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  191. Mary, you might want to put the WitSec on hold until after the continuity. I tried to sell an Alaskan story when a continuity set there was in the works. It didn't fly...but Emily asked if I wanted to write a Military Investigations series so it was all good in my opinion.

    Can't wait to see you. Safe travel!

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  192. Hi Martha! So glad you could stop by Seekerville today!

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  193. I love reading all the pitches! It's been a great day in Seekerville.

    Emily, all your tips are so helpful. I seriously wish I had this type of prep before my early pitch sessions : )

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  194. Looks like I missed quite a bit of the fun. I've been gone most of the day.

    Debby, I didn't want to make the pitch too long and didn't know how to work the angst in there. The twin is most definitely a stumbling block.

    Hope you had a good day.

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  195. i think i'm late to the party, but would like to run a couple things past Emily/Seekerville. (was traveling today, just got out of the truck and got online to get my Seeker fix).

    oh, this post is most useful for me to file away for when i actually type out "the end"

    pitch:
    Abandoned at birth tow-truck driver rescues an un-wed mother to be. Both seek affirmation of their self worth -- him: because of his abandonment at birth, her: dealing with being disowned by her overly legalistic parents (father is minister).
    Can a marriage of convenience provide the affirmation/healing both seek - even as the heroine's parents seek to gain custody of their illegitimate grandchild?

    i've just got a kernel of an idea sparked by the unusual occupation of watchmaker/timepiece maker.

    Hero: a watchmaker, third generation who runs a shop in a midwest town
    Heroine: third generation pickpocket/safecracker who wants to break free of the "family" business

    still mulling their "cute meet" (around him catching her in the act of breaking into a safe at his biz?)
    also still mulling the conflicts for the two. i just thought the unusual occupations would be fun.

    would love to be in the drawing. this post is a treasure of information for me. THANKS!

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  196. Thank you, Debby, for the advice to practice pitching to a "mock" editor. Will do. Enjoyed all the comments by others as well. Great post. Thanks for having Emily.

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  197. Debby - you're not too far off! I'm still discovering it though. I know my rough drafts are often so rough I wouldn't let a blind, illiterate elephant look through them, and they can take a lot of fixing, but if I try to do too much plotting [more than the very basics], I tend to get stuck and never write the blessed thing. I realize this may change after I'm contracted and sell before the manuscript is written, but for now, it's what works for me... :)

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