Monday, July 11, 2011

8 Minute Interrogation... I mean, Pitch Session

Right before I went to pitch to Marcy Posner at Folio Press, Christy English told me I shouldn’t be nervous because the agents are already on my side. They want me to succeed. They’re on the prowl for good books, and they want you to be the author they’re looking for.
I sat down and told Marcy pretty much the same thing I told Jennifer Weltz. Marcy said, “It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of action. Does anything else happen?”
That took me by surprise. I frantically tried to remember what happened in my own book. This was the only question I wasn’t prepped for, so I think I butchered my answer.
“The turning point in the novel is the Second Punic War and the vestal’s execution,” I said. “This vestal is a mother figure for Tuccia, so it’s very traumatic for her, and it defines the rest of her life. Other things happen too. Another vestal gets accused, and… other stuff.”
I should put that on the back cover: Other stuff happens too.
Marcy: “Tell me about yourself. Where do you live, what do you do?”
“I live in Mississippi and I’m a temp at a desk job. It’s nothing glamorous and I don’t make much money, but I won’t quit because it gives me time to write. Every time I consider quitting, my husband reminds me that at a new job, I might not have as much time. The writing is more important than the money.”
Nice. I can’t believe I had the chance to tell her that.
Marcy: “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”
“I was eight. My teacher assigned us to write a book. We illustrated it, made covers, got them bound, and put them on the bookshelf so anyone could read them. Kids came up to me and said, ‘I loved your book.’ I decided I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.”
Marcy: “How long did it take you to write your book?”
“Way too long. Five years.”
“That’s not long, especially for your first book…”
“No, it was too long,” I interrupted. “I kept putting it down. I even went through a bad writer’s block for a while that put things on hold.” Why am I telling her this? “I would like to be an author who can write a book a year, maybe every two years. At the most,” I added quickly.
Marcy: “What published books would you compare your novel to?”
“Memoirs of a Geisha. My book focuses heavily on ceremonies, and the life of a woman. Except there’s war and death.”
She didn’t ask about my market, but I told her anyway: “I think men would enjoy this book. There’s war, Tuccia is in life-and-death situations several times, and men who read it have liked it. Unfortunately, we can’t market it to men because they won’t believe they’ll like it until they actually read it. My audience would have to be primarily women.”
Marcy: “Do you have any other book ideas?”
“Ugh, I have tons of ideas. I come up with an idea a year, and since I took five years writing this book, I’m clogged up.” I pitched Hunger. I'm so glad I wrote out the query letter already; it made pitching on the fly much easier.

“I never thought I would write romance,” I said, “but I love it. It’s so much fun.” We had some extra time, so I briefly told her about my third book.
By now the eight minutes were up. She reached into her bag and pulled out her card. “When will your book by finished?”
“I plan on querying in the fall.”
“Good. When you’re done, let me know.”
For those of you at home keeping score, that’s three for three.


  1. Wow. I got goosebumps just reading this! Good luck!

  2. I haven't commented on any of your conference posts, Teralyn, but I want you to know that I really enjoy them. Your writing style for these posts is clear and organized, a major turn on for my OCD brain. XD

    I'm getting excited thinking about you getting a book deal. It's in your near future, I can feel it.

  3. Thank you so much, Brooke! It's great to have feedback. I wondered if people were thinking, "Oh NO, another article about that dang conference." I'm glad you enjoy them!


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