DFWCon will be my fifteenth writers’ conference. In my heart, I still feel like a newbie. In my head, I know that’s nonsense. And I have learned some things along the way.
Two years ago, I penned a blog post called Finding Your Tribe. In it, I argued that conferences are about finding your tribe. That’s still true. There’s nothing more important than finding or rejoining your tribe at a writers’ conference. But there is also some business to be done.
For many first-time con-goers, the conference is about “The Pitch.” That perfectly wonderful opportunity to go all Gollum over their novel.
They fret about which agent to pick. They fret about over what clothes to wear. But most of all, they fret about making fools of themselves.
I’m here to tell you to relax.
Because if you’re like me, you will absolutely make a fool of yourself. The pitch will be so bad the agent will burst out laughing and then check her watch and then ask if you’d like to do it again because there’s still plenty of time. And that’s when you’ll realize…
It’s just a pitch.
It’s not a life-or-death situation. It’s not a make-or-break moment in your writing career. It’s merely one opportunity to tell one agent about your work with only two potential outcomes. The agent will either ask you to submit something. Or they won’t.
They won’t punch you or scream at you or call you a fool if the pitch is bad (though I have had an agent come close to that last one). They won’t applaud you, sign you, or give you a book deal if it’s good. The agent will either ask you to submit something. Or they won’t.
And here’s something else to remember, you have no control over whether your novel resonates with an agent. Many perfectly well-written novels never see the light of day for this simple reason. You can’t control it. But you can control pitching and querying more agents and, more importantly, writing more books. Persistence is the only way to increase the likelihood that your work will resonate with somebody.
Don’t get me wrong, every pitch is an opportunity and shouldn’t be wasted. You should prepare. You should practice. You should be sure you hit all the key notes required to be successful. But then you should pitch again. And again. And again. And you should write another book. And another. And another.
And as for that first one, it’s just a pitch. So don’t sweat it.
And if you do, then commiserate over it with your tribe.
-- Brian Tracey, DFWWW Director and Member since 2012