Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Pitch that got me the call back ~ a journey

Lets face it as a modern South African writer / aspiring novelist we face many challenges in landing that book deal we all dream about.  The role as a writer has many complicated layers and holds such beautiful promise. It's a compulsion driven by a need to inspire, make a difference and heal through words and stories. Every writer has a message to deliver, an urge to be heard and to connect through expression, but at the same time stand out as an individual. 

When I started writing my first novel, I believed in my creation. In my dream to heal through words. Once my manuscript was done, revised and edited it was time to find an agent/publisher to deliver my story to the world. But I soon discovered how isolated and alone I was in the South African publishing world. Resources, agents and tools for a SA writer of Young Adult Science- fiction was a rarity. For me as a SA writer there was no support. Without landing an Agent there was no getting published. 

Four years later, through countless hours, and money wasted on a Vanity publisher,  I  eventually started making a name for myself in the international market. But paying in USD currency for an editor, a cover artist and a publicist started to take its toll on me. I couldn't understand why I had to fight so hard for my dream to come true.  I quickly found that it was so easy and extremely welcoming to adhere to international trends, and pretty soon I had a huge fan base in America. 

In 2014 my ultimate dream came true when I attended a USA book signing and writers con in Nashville. I did extremely well and established myself as a force to be reckoned with as my editor would say. What I gained and learnt in those few days was a revelation compared to the three years of online research. I learned about honing the perfect pitch hoping it would give me the confidence to pitch my projects one more time. I leaned so much at the con I couldnt wait to apply it -= And then the booboo! (yup I said booboo) While at the con I got an off chance to do live pitch and even though it wasn't to an agent I totally froze up and BLEW IT! 

a few months later and hours after sulking I found ROSAcon2014 and this was my chance to show myself I have to get up and do it again. I learned so much how can I not use it??

What won me over to attend the event is that I would have the once in a life time opportunity to pitch my voice to very important players in the publishing industry - and editor from Harper Impulse and a bigshot US agent. I had to grab this opportunity as they don't come often. 
 When I registered to ROSAcon 2014 I was extremely, extremely excited by the fact that there was actually a happening, gathering of SA writers with the opportunity to learn about the growing market of SA writers and know that there were SA writers that have been extremely successful in the industry despite the extreme challenges we as SA authors face.

Building up to the pitch that could ignite my writing career to such an extent that I could possibly become a full time writer.

Once I registered with with ROSA I took out all my notes I learned in the US and studied them, did the worksheets. A day or so later I got a wonderful email from Romy Sommer (host of ROSA) and published author with Harper Impulse. 
Tips on what to add in your pitch... I posted some of it here.

As expected, even after all my preparation, it didn't guarantee they would like my work -  I had a very sleepless night. 
Minutes before the pitch, actually waiting in line with a few other authors, was killing me slowly. 

I chewed up all my nail polish!

On realizing everyone in the room felt the same I started to feel a bit better that I had others sharing the same kind of torture. Romy Sommer made us all feel a bit more relaxed and she was totally right there was nothing to be worried about.  And she was right!

It was love at first sight!!!

First pitch 
The gorgeous Charlotte Ledger from Harper Implulse.

Charlotte was great from the word hello! 

On doing research on Charlotte, I soon realized I love this woman's passion and beauty -  I don't have anything that would sweep her away - So I started writing something that would peek her interest and sway mine... Well turns out she freaking loved my first chapter and wanted to see more. Immediately my guard was down and all the prepping just soaked in and delivered everything I was taught. 
The important thing was to ask questions - and I did and going back to my story I'm freaking in love with I cannot wait to send her more. ~ although this does not mean I will get the YES PLEASE WE WANT YOU - the fact that I got the call for more proved to me that I can hook like no ones business.

Second Pitch 
To the esteemed lit agent Laurie McLean 
This too was huge deal for me, as Agents are non existent in our parts and landing one would mean I can spend more time on writing and my agent would become my best friend and help me grow in areas where I suck. Once again I wanted to write something inspired by Laurie's taste, because having something an agent actually likes is a wonderful start.
Laurie was wonderful, I didn't feel intimdated at all. In my opinion I thought we got on really well. She was so easy to talk to and I could see the passion for stories with each blink of the eye. I fed off her energy and got us much from Laurie as I could. I'm not sure who asked more questions me or Laurie? Yup I got the call for more!!

I am still on a high from this event that could possible change my life, and like I said before even if I don't fully close the deal, I know how to create a good hook and feel confident enough to pitch to other agents and editors now. What a wonderful opportunity it has been!! 

You can follow my journey @CarlyleL

"dont be crippled by fear, let love give you wings"
~ Carlyle Labuschagne 

Next up: reports on Rebecca Crowley's talk on 'How to stand out from the slush pile'.

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