I love Philadelphia. As a South Jersey guy I’ve long considered myself having grown up, “Just outside of Philly” which is not exactly accurate but people say it. Technically, I grew up just outside of Princeton, which again is not exactly accurate either, but we said it all the time growing up. That or, “Exit 8.”
But I spent yesterday at the Philadelphia Writers Workshop in Rittenhouse Square. It was a nice event: well-run and organized and lower-key than the huge Writer’s Digest Conferences, which is really what I needed as I once again dip my toes back into the world of books and publishing.
The classes were fun, covering style and revision, publishing options, how to work with agents, and a fun but slightly nerve-wracking anonymous one-page “Writers Got Talent” session. My one-page did not get randomly selected and I’m kind of glad. The book is done but on reflection I think it needs a further fine tuning and possibly a major structural change. My pitches went well and I earned five requests for partials which is awesome. Now it’s time to get everything tight before formally submitting the work, but I’m pretty excited.
I was asked by a number of people in my life that the process of pitching is like so I thought I’d discuss that a bit. It can be a little intimidating at first but I find it pretty fun once I get comfortable with my pitch. It’s especially enjoyable if the person you’re pitching to likes what you’re talking about and engages you about your work.
Essentially, you’re given ten minutes of time with an agent or editor. It’s suggested you do your research and choose those who work in your genre. Also a good idea to know something about them so you can chat briefly, personalizing your conversation with them. After pleasantries, you basically deliver your pitch covering your characters, the plot and setting, what the conflict is, where the choices get made and how things change for the character over the course of the book. It’s a little bit like presenting your written query in person, but the goal is to inspire interest in the book and in you as someone to work with.
If it’s a yes, they ask for a partial read. Each agent/editor asks for something different. Some want the first ten pages, some want thirty. Some want a synopsis with spoilers and others want a bio and formal query. If it’s a no, thanks for your time and shake hands.
So, over the coming weeks I will likely do some revisions based on some advice and some of the things I gleaned from the workshops. And then I’ll send them what they asked for and wait.
So, we’ll see how it goes. I didn’t get as much time as I’d hoped for to network with other writers. I’m really interested in that and thinking of exploring some of the writers groups here in NoVA, or starting one if I can’t find one that works. That was a point a number of presenters made yesterday was finding a community to help shape your work and to expose you to the work of peers. I think that’s been missing for me so I’m motivated to see what’s out there.
So it went very well and I have a solid path forward. There’s more work to do, but I was really encouraged by the response to my story. Now to make sure it’s completely ready as I’ll have one shot with these five professionals.
And I’m not throwin’ away my shot… (see what I did there?)
Aloha for now-I’m going to try to post here more regularly so stay tuned.