As always, I'm thinking a couple of jumps ahead. At least, I'm going that far ahead with all the bad and scary things that could happen. Actual useful planning? Not so much. I guess I just like to terrify myself in a very proactive manner.
I read in another author's blog (Beth Carter - http://www.banterwithbeth.blogspot.com/) that it's now "pitch season." Heck, I didn't even know there were seasons to authoring before now, so I guess I've learned something useful already today. It's not even noon yet, so woo hoo! Pitch season, in any event, is apparently the time of year when conferences are held and writers gather to...um...well, apparently to talk about writing. (is it just me, or wouldn't writing about writing be more effective?) Also, though, they spend a day or so at these conferences gathering a panel of agents and publishers who apparently look like humorless America's Got Talent judges, in front of all of the authors (who, incidentally, paid to be there), who then have an opportunity to one at a time, in the hot illumination of a single spotlight, give as effective of a "pitch" for their novels as the authors can manage under the stress. Oh, and under the time limit too. The time limit I've heard most frequently is one minute. Can you imagine giving an effective pitch for eighty to a hundred thousand words in sixty seconds? Me neither.
Regardless, I'm not there yet. My only work to pitch is currently on on editor's desk, soon-ish to be returned to me slashed throughout in bloody red ink. It'll probably take a while after to piece the work--and, less importantly, my pride--back together, and so I really have no idea when I'll be ready to go participate in one of these grand celebrations of author-hood. It doesn't bother me terribly; there are still plenty of ways to get rejected outside this "pitch season," after all. I'll be sure to blog about them as I go, in the hopes that it's an entertaining process to someone. Millions of people tune in to America's Got Talent to watch Piers and his triad of judges rip the hearts out of the folks on stage. Isn't this really the same thing?
"Pitching," though, to me, sounds not as bad as it's portrayed by some. For one thing, I speak in front of people for a living. Many of the worries that others, including Beth, have listed are business as usual for me. My biggest fear, normally, is having a Greek audience. By that, I refer to an audience that just doesn't connect at all. Normally when I talk to a group, I'm able within the first few moments to bring them into the conversation, as evidenced by smiles, engaged eyes, and tilts of heads. Sometimes, though, it's like I'm speaking Greek. Even my best jokes or my most lively comments sometimes just dissipate into a void of WeDon'tCare. That's my biggest fear.
Truthfully? That's not actually my biggest fear. Don't tell anybody, but my biggest fear is really getting to the end of my talk to find my fly open. It's happened. Twice, in fact. There's nothing quite like the OhMyGod feeling when you go to the restroom after a great performance, reach to unzip, and find that task already accomplished. It makes you want to not leave the restroom. Ever.
That fear actually has resulted in my own little ritual, one for which I've cleverly come up with an acronym: CMF. Check My Fly. Before any performance, and certainly before I pitch my work anytime in the future to a gaggle of growling agents and publishers, I Check My Fly. As long as it's up, all will be well. It's my greatest fear, after all, and as long as the thing I fear the most doesn't happen, what else would worry me?
And now it's time to head off to the day job...have a great one!