All Pitched Out

baseball being pitchedThey take starting pitchers off the mound and send them to nurse their elbows in something like the sixth inning of Major League Baseball games. There is no such relief for the intrepid, emerging writer. It’s pitch until you drop at events like the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference. And here I am, ostensibly dropped, face down on my hotel bed, typing without looking at my hands and thanking Miss Radice of McCorristin Catholic High School that she taught me to memorize a keyboard so well in 1986.

I bombed out on both my editor session and my official agent pitch, pretty much like I did last year, but the good news is that there have been many more opportunities to share my projects with professionals, and they’ve been excited about my work. Super excited, really. “Send me the whole thing,” said a publisher, who then asked for my card. He asked for my card? Publishers don’t do this. They disseminate their information, they don’t take anything from lowly wannabe writers. I handed over my card, thanks to Vista Print.

Truth be told, I screwed up on my business card order, so I have 1,000 of the suckers to give away instead of a more reasonable 500. Seattle should be half-worried I’ll run around stapling my cards to every free surface I can find.

Pitches happen everywhere. When browsing in the temporary bookstore at the conference, in the hallways, over drinks by the hotel bar, anywhere. One fellow attendee tweeted that he heard a pitch in the men’s room. “Ew,” finished his Tweet. Darn tootin’. Who wants to shake hands after that pitch? At least let the agent make it to the sink first!

Agents start to look a little haggard after just the first day. If they thought they were escaping their flooded in boxes, they’re sorely mistaken, because I imagine pitches fly at them like cannon balls from the Spanish Armada. But the Armada before 1588, because that’s when the British Navy took over as the greatest fleet on the seas, but I digress. My rounded point is that writers pitch agents all day. It’s awesome and exhausting all at once.

Writers pitch each other, too. Partly because we want to polish our approach, and the more a writer practices, the more natural she’ll sound once it’s a pitch that matters (e.g., she’s not telling it to her dog). But another reason we wind up pitching to our writerly peers is because heck, if someone’s going to ask you what your book is about, you might as well pitch it rather than just discuss it. It’s an author’s conference, so we need to take every opportunity available to work on selling ourselves. I recognize that it feels phony and somewhat dirty, but in essence we’re all building our brands.

Still, such rigorous focus on self-marketing will wear a person out fast. By the middle of day 2 I was little more than a walking zombie, which is exactly when my projects started sounding really interesting to agents. It reminded me of the time that my friends and I went to the Virginia wine festival—yes, Virginia wine, people—and drank a lot of zinfandel and pinot gris to deal with the humid heat. By the end of the day, every single one of us fell in love with the same plum wine. Yes. Plum. Wine. There must have been two functioning taste buds left on my tongue, but I bought a bottle, proclaiming its deliciousness to passersby. One month later I opened the bottle and tried a glass, and could not believe my stupidity. In the light of day, will agents still be interested in my projects?

I’ll have to let them oxidize a little and find out, but I am really getting to be a pro at pitching, so there’s that, at least.

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Categories: Writing


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2 Comments on “All Pitched Out”

  1. August 7, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Your work is NOT plum wine. Got it?



    I remember the exhaustion. You did it. That is a measure of success right there.

    • evmaroon
      August 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

      You are an angel among writers. Thanks! Yes, I did it, two years in a row! Now on to work…sans plum wine.

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