Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pitch It! The Agonies of telling your story in 30 seconds or less. Your (and My) SCBWI Conference Homework!

"So, what are you working on?"

You know someone's going to ask you this.

It may be the person in line behind you at the conference bookstore. The person on the plane sitting next to you. Or it could be an agent. Or an editor.

"Its... uh...."

Ugh. 30 seconds.

How can you possibly boil down all that work - all the complexity and wonder that is your Work-In-Progress, to a couple of sentences?

Here's a Tip: You don't have to freeze up, because the question will NOT be a surprise. You KNOW it's going to be asked. I just told you, someone's going to ask you.

And you have 3 days left before the conference starts, including today - it's time to prepare.

But how? How do you get your two page synopsis of your magnum opus distilled down?

Try this:

Imagine your book has been published. You're standing in the bookstore next to a PILE of your books on a table by the front, and you notice an ideal target reader has picked up your book. They're holding it in their hands. They look at you, then at the flap's author photo, and then back again.

"You're the author?" They ask, awe-struck.

You smile. Nod. You've been waiting for this day for so long...

"Wow," They say. "What's it about?"

Now go: Just talk about it.

What did you say? Write it down. Tweak it. Practice it. Learn it. (I didn't say memorize it - no one wants to listen to a rote speech.) But know your story. Be able to discuss what you're writing and convey why you are passionate about it. (For illustrators, same thing: what are you working on, and what fires you up about it?)

Because hey, someone's going to ask:

What are you working on?

And the conversation you have with them will be a lot more fun (and productive) if you're able to talk about it.

So what are you waiting for? Go do your homework!

And I'll see you Friday, at the 2010 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City. (You can still register for the conference!)


Oh, and remember that this Thursday, January 28, 2010 is the FINAL day of The 2010 Comment Challenge - 5 comments a day, 100 comments in 21 days, (with one day off for good behavior!) You can check out MotherReader's blog today for our prize package announcement!




Anne M Leone said...

Great post, Lee. Strangely enough, for once I feel on the ball--I HAVE been working on my pitch lately. I've found Rachelle Gardner's blog here very useful as a how-to guide:

MotherReader said...

Great advice! I've heard of the elevator pitch before, but today it really connected. I think in part because you and I just talked and you gave me a perfect example in how you explained the middle-grade book you're working on. I understood the concept before, but now I really get it. Thanks!

Angela said...

Have a great time in NY!

Baskin said...

Great post! I just spent the day boiling down my stories to log lines and synopses.

Have a great time in NYC- I'll be living vicariously through your posts.

Michelle The Artist said...

Whew! I think I'll have to memorize mine and then just drive people crazy reciting it to them over and over again until it sounds natural. I'm the type of person to just freeze up and start sputtering different scenes in the book, not necessarily in order. Good luck in NY. I went to LA, my one conference for the year. Maybe next year.