Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Um... So What Exactly Do I Say?

So, at the Romantic Times convention, I have an appointment with an agent and also with an editor for a major publishing house. I'm thinking the chance for a sit down one on one pitch session is a chance for me to excel.  After all, I was a professional actor for a long time. A nationally recognized public speaker. A bartender.  I can talk to anyone. Right?

Yeah, but what do I say?

Let me think: 

"Hello, Mr/Ms Big Time New York Agent/Editor For A House I Would Die To be Contracted By!  My name is Celina Summers. I write speculative fiction with a heavy dose of romance. I focus upon strong female protagonists and I'm really headed for the top!  Now--fork over my contract or I won't buy you a drink in the bar..."

Nope. Not it.

"Yo, babe. My name's Celina. You can call me Your Majesty.  I have the best manuscript in the world, the next great American novel--a guaranteed blockbuster that will make JK Rowling and Stepheny Meyer look like rank amateurs..."

Nope. Not it either.

"Um...hi.  Um...I wrote this book, you know? And it's about weird people who fall in love.  And magic. Can't forget the magic. And I like cats..."


"You know, I queried you last week/month/year and you didn't request my manuscript so I figured I'd show up here and tell you why you were wrong..."


"My name is Celina and I am an alcoholic..."

Nope. Not a good idea.

"Hi. My name is Celina Summers.  Right now, I have five manuscripts completed in the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy and high fantasy.  Three are standalone books and two are the first books of potential series.  Chances are if you tell me what you're looking for, I have a manuscript that'll fill that need..."

Not bad, but the subtext would be "...and if it's not, I'll damn sure make certain it is before I send it to you..."

So let me think. What would I say?

This makes me fall back on the long days of cattle call auditions.  When you're auditioning for a role, you not only want to do a great job interpreting the script but you want to make certain you're memorable to the casting director.  Now, there were many occasions that I was memorable--mostly because I face-planted on the way onto the stage or did something completely stupid like tucking the back of my skirt into my panty hose.  (I don't recommend that as a good way to get a role, by the way--although I did manage to land that one for some odd reason)

So I'm going to have to rely on instinct.  Let's see where that takes me.

In a one on one situation, the best way to be memorable is to be personable and unaffected.  Fortunately, I'm very comfortable speaking with strangers.  I like to put people at their ease.  In an eight minute scheduled appointment with an agent or editor, I need to be able to do that swiftly.  I need to be able to get across as much information as possible as quickly as I can.  That means being able to boil my pitch (my query letter) down into three or four well-chosen sentences.  I need to relate my experience, publishing history and strengths as a writer without sounding like an overbearing asshat.

My manner, which in my debate days was kindly described as "formidable" and somewhat more accurately called "bitchy," needs to be calm and pleasant. And above all, I need to arrive at a point as soon as I possibly can where the agent/editor can ask me questions--and THAT means I need to make them interested in my work.

So to start off with, I think my best bet is to get that presentation as efficient as I possibly can and then work from there.  Keep an eye out on the blog--I'm going to make notes as we get closer to convention time and let you know what I'm thinking.  Then, as I'm planning an extensive blogging experience at RT, I'll let you know how my plans worked or if they didn't.

Oh, I haven't mentioned that yet have I? I will be updating my blog a minimum of three times a day at the RT Convention and I'll share as much as I can of the experience.  I'll be heading into it with a lot of momentum too.  Mythos 1: Bride of Death  is currently AMP's #1 seller on Mobipocket and Breaking the Covenants is currently ranked 35th on the Fictionwise Best Seller list for Dark Fantasy.

Aha!  Something else I can say.  Amazing how that works.