Pitching your novel.

At Conflux back in April I had my first experience pitching a novel. Generally before I do anything like this, I have a bit of a snoop about the interwebs and do some research and prep. In this case, other than this really helpful article by Brittney Van Sandt and a piece on conventions by an agent Evan Gregory (so from the other side of the fence), I didn’t find much really great advice. Now having been through the meat grinder and come out alive, I thought I might jot down some notes for anyone else getting ready to pitch their own novel.

So first things first, how did I go with my pitching? I had five pitches all up. One was pretty poor (on my part), one so-so and three pretty good. That leaves me plenty of room for improvement, but it wasn’t too bad for a first crack.

Pitching

And what did I learn?* ( this is longish, so for the lazy or busy, I’ve chucked a really quick recap in at the end.) Continue reading

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A very belated Conflux post.

What seems like an age ago now, I headed down to Canberra for Conflux 9. This is my very quick wrap.

For the TL:DR crowd;

1. It was awesome. If you are even marginally interested in writing SFF, sell a kid and go next year.

2. I won the short story comp. Huge cheer. Even huger sigh of relief. My family, friends and writing groups haven’t just been humouring me!

Being serious for a moment, winning this was just a fantastic feeling, especially as Reunification is the first piece of writing I’ve liked enough to send off. It’s probably the thing I am most proud of professionally (ever!).

Here is a pic of me grinning like an idiot as I get my award:

Conflux

Now for a slightly longer breakdown.

Workshops.

I went along to three workshops. Writing to sell by Patty Jansen, Polishing your Turds by Ian McHugh and Vivid, Vital Characters by Karen Miller. Luckily, Mark Webb went to all the same workshops as me. Go read his blog here. It is much better than this and I’m feeling lazy!

Personally, I found Ian’s workshop especially useful. I already use a system similar to what he described, but I was particularly impressed by how methodical and structured his approach is. His style of turd polishing is definitely something I am going to steal! If you want to see his system in action, go and read Bitter Dreams – it is the best short I’ve read in years.

I also had a little workshop on pitching with the brilliant Rowena Cory Daniels. Long story short, it isn’t hard to see why this fantastic author has been so successful.  Her ability to really tease out the heart of a novel and then sell its essence was very,very impressive. To say that this session was helpful would be the understatement of the year. The only unfortunate thing was that it was after my first four pitches! Grrrrrr.

In summary, workshops were great. Thanks to everyone one who ran one, I came out of all of them having learnt a lot. My only complaint would be that the last two were on at 08:00! That hurt.

Pitches.

I had five pitches! Despite their being bloody nerve wracking, they went pretty well AND I got a few requests for the full manuscript of Game Bird (yay). This is pretty exciting and a massive honour, but ultimately only tells me that I can talk shit, which I already knew. Now I am nervously waiting for replies.

I’ll write a detailed post on what I learnt soon, but a  few quick thoughts.

1. I’d read hundreds of blogs in prep and a lot of them kept coming back to how nasty and aggressive agents and publishers can be. In my brief experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone I pitched to was lovely and extremely professional.

2. Five pitches was tough and having them looming over me made it a little hard to enjoy the first three days. A big thank you to the lovely Lily Mulholland, who always had a kind word as I settled in to wait for my next pitch. I’m going to work on this calm for next time;

The Few

The tribe, the crew.

Were amazing. I only knew one person going to Conflux and I was interested to see how this interloper would be received. I had nothing to worry about, everyone was incredibly friendly and very, very welcoming. I don’t have a huge circle of friends interested in SFF and it was just great to sit down and chat with people who share my passion. Very, very cool. I can’t believe how many talented people there are in the Australian scene. Amazing stuff.

Even better, I met some people who I am already looking forward to catching up with again. I suppose you can’t hope for more than that!

And then it was back to the bedlam of project budget meetings and a metric shitload of overtime. Sigh.