|Michigan Avenue near Chicago Writers Conference|
After seven years of writing and revising, critique from my longstanding writing group, fifteen months with Fred Shafer's wonderful novel group, and critical reading by many generous friends, I've put my novel, I Never Knew You Had a Girl, in a drawer and started the agent search. Research seven agents. Send targeted query letters that specify their interests or books they've represented. After seven rejections, revise the query letter and send seven more. That's the strategy I learned at Chicago Writers Conference 2012 from Chuck Sambuchino. So far I've received several positive comments: "substantial pleasures," "vibrant characters," "poise and polish," "stood out from the many we receive,"two requests for the full manuscript, but no acceptances.
My First Pitchfest at Chicago Writers Conference 2013
Here's what I learned:
1. Practice and time your pitch.
2. Wait in clammy silence with your fellow pitchers, avoiding eye contact, in the cold, dark back of Brando's Speakeasy. You'll have exactly four minutes to sell your wares and four for response.
3. Greet your agent/publisher and tell your story.
4. Discover that they want not you nor your book but your subject matter, your genre (as in litfic, women's, historical), and your audience, one each.
5. Your singularity is not a value. Your similarity to other books is. Find them, marry them to each other, and hope your book is born.
6. There's always many ways to tell a story. Skew your pitch a dozen different ways and try them out.
Links to Older Publications
"Liberal Catholicism" in America Magazine
"Artist of the Month" in Image Journal (with link to "Contemporary Choreography: Retaining the Sacred")
"Writing and Dancing" in Chicago Artists Resource
"Symbols: Forest of Ambiguity" in Numero Cinq
"The Hate that Chills" video of reading a story excerpted from my novel, recorded at Tuesday Funk