IWSG: Something From Nothing
Posted on September 5, 2018
A long time ago, back in 2013, I went to a Pitchapalooza contest in New York City and pitched my recently-finished novel, A Selfish Moment. I was hesitant, but my writer friend convinced me to go. It's easier to do these kinds of things with support at your side.

It's a raffle from the participants, so only twenty or so people got to pitch in front of the audience of agents and about three dozen aspiring authors. Mine was the second name drawn; my heart nearly beat out of my chest! I felt sorry for the first guy -- he was visibly nervous, he had the sweats and shakes.

In the end, each agent decides if they want to take on one of the manuscripts based solely on the 1-minute pitch. (They actually use a buzzer!)  After the raffle winners all pitch their books, the agents meet privately for a few minutes and make their decisions. Throughout the event, agents also gave out a few tips on technique, style, and efficiency and gave your pitch a quick critique.

Before the event, I had researched pitching techniques online, studied loads of best sellers and tried to copy their book blurb formats, their "formula", and created the pitch below which I read to the group:

Jubilee Ray wakes up Saturday morning in a strange bed with a handsome guy asleep at her side and no memory of how she got there. Everett Salerno wakes up ecstatic about the incredible night he spent with Jubilee. She can’t wait to get out of his apartment and he can’t wait to start their romance. Jubilee is a blackout drunk. Everett is drunk with love.  

Their one-night-stand ends almost as quickly as it began, however fate has other plans in mind. In the next three days filled with impossible coincidences, humiliating moments, and mouthwatering recollections, Everett can’t find the right moment to express his intentions and Jubilee can’t let go of her past long enough to really give Everett a chance.

Neither Jubilee nor Everett can let go of that first night together. Was that one perfect evening a fluke, or was it a preview of something greater than they ever imagined?

To my surprise, and to that of my friend who accompanied me to the Pitchapalooza event, I was chosen by one of the agents. Kate McKean took my manuscript, read it and decided my dual-perspective format wasn't what she was looking for. She did say my writing voice was wonderful and that I had a good sense of dialog, but she was expecting a traditional romance novel, a single POV with a lot more sexual elements.

I sent out a couple query letters to a few more romance-novel agents, using the same pitch and got a handful of requests for the manuscript. A few said they disliked the dual perspective format and one said she was hoping for more sexual scenes up front.

So, I had a choice to make. Do I conform with what the agents want (change format and add more sex) or do I stick to my PG-13 romance in dual perspective?

I decided not to change a thing with my novel, because I absolutely LOVE both gal's and guy's perspective and the fact that it's not littered with sex. It's my story, right?

Nothing tangible came from "winning" Pitchapalooza, except it gave me more confidence in my pitching abilities. It also gave me enough confidence to send out the manuscript to a few beta readers from an online writing group who were willing to give it a try. And, from those sacrificial lambs, I got awesome feedback. And when I sent out to a few friends who I know love romance novels, they came back with raving reviews.

So, because of these moments, and the fact that I am a total control freak who will answer to nobody (except my editors of course :-D ), I took the self publishing route and haven't looked back.

~ * ~

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  1. Good for you! And the experience does sound like it was worth it even if it didn't end in a contract.

    1. It totally was. I learned a lot about myself that year, and going the self publishing route was the right choice for me.

  2. Control freaks unite!

    Glad you had such a positive experience at the contest. It certainly sounds as though something tangible came out of it.

  3. Love it! Pitch Wars did much of the same thing for me. All we need is a little validation, eh?

  4. I thought most romances were from both perspectives? (Of course, it's not a genre I read, but that seems like a good format.)
    Don't change it. Don't make it R just to appease anyone and compromise your story or your values. You stick to the story you created and love.

    1. I did just that! I stuck by my story and self published it. It's also on wattpad. And it's one of the freebees I offer to my followers. I still love it. :-D

  5. Good for you! It sounds like you had the perfect reason for self publishing your story.

    1. I thought so too, Jean. Check it out if you're into not-so-cheesy urban romances. :-D

  6. I’m a control freak like that too. But how awesome you got requests from it. That’s confidence building!


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