Sunday, June 7, 2009

The BEA Writer Conference - PITCH SLAM Part2

We'd had our meeting with Christine, it had gone very well, and we were both fired up. Alicia and I headed into the Pitch Slam practice. I wasn't sure how this was going to help. As you know, I'd already had the whole pitch ready to go, I knew it inside and out, if you woke me at 3am, I could have done it perfectly - in spanish - or even ancient greek.  

Then we got in. Superstar Janet Reid was sitting up in front of everyone, and the host invited a few people up to go pitch Janet on the spot. I sat back and watched carefully. Janet was incredible. She was funny, real funny, she even screamed a few times. But she helped each and every person in that audience. I realized the super pitch I'd worked out and could recite in a few dead languages was simply not going to work.

Thank god we had some time after the session before the pitch slam began. I needed it to work on my pitch. It didn't take long. I used Janet's advice and suddenly a tidal wave of energy poured over me. I was ready.

Disaster! All right, it wasn't a total disaster. The guy did invite me to upload some pages, but he told me straight out he didn't like the story, thought it sounded muddled, and that there was no human element to it - a sense that the main character would be relatable. Ouch! 

All I could hold on to was the fact I knew Faye had been so overwhelming positive about the story and characters, cocktailed with my successful pitch to Christine, who'd been so warm and responsive during our whole conversation. But I can't lie - that did sting.

I went down my list and found the next agent. She had no one at her table for the moment, so I ran over and fired on through the pitch - just to get this next one over with. She handed me a card and told me to send her 30 pages. All right, all right - I can handle that. Nice! Back in business!  

The rest of the day was a blur. I met lots of people all getting ready to pitch their stories and it just felt great. People really seemed to be having a wonderful time and that made me so happy. I love it when things are going well for everyone, you know? Just puts a smile on my face. 

Alicia and I met up again at one point, I think it was on line to pitch the incredible, savvy, super-agent Tina Wexler from ICM. I was in the middle of talking to Alicia about Wicked (she was going to see it with her husband that evening) when I had to go up to pitch Tina. Tina was cracking up - she'd seen me talking to a few people I guess and wondered how I met so many people so quickly. The fact is, I really love these settings and I really love meeting people and learning their stories. That's why I'm a writer, I love stories! I had a blast pitching Tina. Seriously, folks, if you can't have fun telling Tina your story, you simply aren't qualified for life. She's awesome! She takes notes on what you're saying, she asks questions, she makes you feel completely at ease, and even jokes around!

The day was wrapping up and I'd pitched 8 agents. All 8 had requested material, even the devil spawn agent, who disliked my story but for some odd reason thought I should send him pages anyway. Go figure.  The guy was actually very nice and I'm only calling him the devil's spawn, because for the slightest moment after my pitch to him, I stumbled into my swelling black hole of insecurities and very nearly gave up my quest to conquer BEA.  Dude - seriously, you're ok with me!

And that was it. I had an incredible time. I met a new friend, someone I can sense will be in my life for a long time to come. And I walked away with 8 requests for my work. What more could I possibly want?

I'll tell you.

I wanted to take a nice slow stroll home by the river. When we got there that day, it was nasty out - grey, cloudy, and spitting rain. At some point during the day, the sky had opened up into a golden wonder with zero clouds and sunlight glimmering off the water. It was a living metaphor for the day.

On my lovely stroll home by the water, I called my wife to tell her the news and then my other biggest supporter - mom.  Both were thrilled.  There was still much work ahead and both reminded me. But I'd taken a huge step forward, and they let me enjoy the moment.  

3 days later, I got my first rejection.         


  1. You know I'm gonna be commenting on everything you write from now on:) I'm throwing support your way *support, support, support*

    I wrote Christine a note (which I noticed had a major grammatical error in it after I pressed send--you know that's how my luck is) saying how terrific is was to meet her in person. She commented on my blog. I feel so special.

    Holy crap you got a lot of agent blog links up! I'm gonna steal some, okay? Have you been trimming your book? I'm working on book two cuz I need something to do while I'm waiting. *Sings Mr Rogers waiting song*. I'm a *itch when I'm not writing. It's like creative build up that comes out my eyes like lazer beams of frustration and seriously my husband thinks I'm going to eat him alive.

    Excellent news about Faye. I hope she picks you up and takes you to the top. Santa will be reinvented for millions and millions of people all over the world. And I can say...Hey, I know B. Jason Roer! He's my friend.

  2. Most of the time, I just send the email without adding the attachment! Then I have to send the "oops" email with the attachment. I'm hopeful that someday I'll learn better.

    Haven't been doing any trimming. The edits from Faye were so spot on, and the feedback I've received on the draft tells me I should simply wait until someone puts a gun to my head (read - editor/agent) before I go ahead and try to nick anymore out of the story.

    I like your last paragraph! ;) I'll be doing to same for you when everyone tells their children all about the *real* mother nature.