A friend and I were talking about the writing life and got on the subject of pitches. You see, aspiring authors can sign up for a pitch-practice session with various “published” writers before they go into their real pitch with an agent and/or editor. I think it’s a great idea of an aspiring to get some pointers before they put their best foot forward with their hopes riding high on their pitch. HOWEVER, I also think it’s a waste of time to have your pitch shot down by someone who has their own agenda in mind.
I’m not sharing any names, but stories like this perturb me because it happens more than you think. You see, some authors have this idea that they think they’re doing aspiring authors a favor by tearing their work apart while elevating theirs at the same time. But yet, they think they’re judging your work as an editor would.
Maybe I’m naive. Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about working with editors despite having work with them for the last five years. But if telling someone “that will never sell” when they’ve only gotten four words out of their mouths is supposed to help, then I’d rather get a critique from a one-eyed monkey who’s slinging shit due to it being their nature than out of maliciousness. But that’s just me.
Whenever I critique someone’s work, I do my best to give both positive and negative criticism. Trust me. If you’ve worked your butt off and love your story to pieces, then I’ll find something I love about it and will be sure to point it out. That’s how I believe in critiquing. The things that bug me about your work, you’ll know about those, too. Now whether something is unpublishable or not, I’m not one to say because I’m not an editor and I don’t pretend to be. Perhaps those “it’s all about me” authors should remember that the next time they think they’re doing an unpubbed a favor by gracing them with their presence. They need to leave their diva at the door when they’re facing your readers, too.
Have you ever encountered any divas in your reading/writing travels?
With RWA Nationals about to roll around, I’ve been thinking a lot about pitches. My mind keeps going back to M&M 2008 when I helped a close friend with hers that resulted in a request. Because I had so much fun with that, I’ve agreed to co-present a pitch workshop with my friend Jenna Black in June. That’s gonna be mad fun. Poor Jenna won’t know what hit her, especially if I’m the one pretending to do the pitching. 😈
Another thing I like to do is read query letters. There has been a lot going on around the internet about this thing called #queryfail where editors and agents tweet (the verb form of Twitter) about the queries they’ve received in real time. Let’s just say I like Nathan Bransford’s stance on that whole issue and leave it as that. 😉 I think I’m good at looking at queries and spotting the problems, but I suck when it comes to writing my own. That’s why I always run to my buddy Edie Ramer for her keen eye. Nevertheless, I think a lot of writers would’ve gotten more out of #queryfail if they had someone proof their queries first.
The Romance Diva are raising money to offer one of their valued members a chance to go to Nationals this year. I want to donate, but I don’t want to stick to the usual free book. I’d love to donate a query or pitch crit, but for some reason that doesn’t seem like enough. Not to mention, I’m sure writers can get their friends to do the critiquing for them and won’t pay for one done by me. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll just take the easy road and donate a copy of Unstable Environment and/or Half Breed.
Between helping with pitches and proofing query letters, I’d be in heaven if I could make a career from those two things alone. Critiquing an entire book is too time consuming for me, which is why I don’t have a crit partner right now. Query letters and pitches take a few minutes at most and it’s easy to spot what’s working and what’s not. In fact, I love them so much that I’ve been thinking about having a query/pitch crit day on my blog. I’ll have to give that some serious thought though because I’m worried there’s a chance I’ll get more posts than I can deal with.
So those are my two guilty pleasures I would love to give back to other writers. What are yours? Volunteer at a convention? Review a book? Help an author with promo?