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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Excelent Blog Entry I found: How to: 7 Tips for Pitch Sessions with Editors and Agents

I'm preparing flights (found one for WAY cheaper! SOLD!) and accommodation and visas and ra ra ra for my trip overseas which, if you read this blog at all is also going to include the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators LA Conference (woot!).

Found this blog post today on Jennifer Lawler's site, which makes me realise I should really be prepared. I have a couple of months, but I don't want to leave it to the last minute. Some of you may be heading to conferences at the moment and going through the perils of pitching. I know the NESCBWI conference is on at the moment cos an agent who has my full manuscript is there right now. So she's busy and not getting back to me.

Anyhoo, here's the blog post. Really worth thinking about before attending conferences. And I think conferences and workshops are a must for writers.

Also, I started a new blog, for my more non-fictiony type of writing which I'm doing a lot of at the moment. So you can visit me doing other stuff at

And I'm on Twitter! Enjoy!
How to: 7 Tips for Pitch Sessions with Editors and Agents
It’s that time of year when writers throw themselves into a panic over conference pitch sessions with editors and agents. As a veteran of approximately five million of these sessions, I wanted to weigh in on what has worked best for me.

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not going to sell your book in a five-minute (or even a ten-minute) session with an editor. So relax. What you’re trying to do is start a relationship. That’s how books get sold. If you can just have a conversation with the agent or editor, you’re way ahead of the game. So while it’s important to think about what you’re going to say ahead of time, if you get too focused on you and your pitch, you won’t listen to what the editor or agent is saying. It’s hard to make a connection with someone if all you can think about is your own agenda.

That said, here are 7 tips for getting ready:

1. Figure out how to describe what your book is about in a couple of sentences. Practice these sentences in a couple of different ways, but don’t memorize them. Know what shelf your book will fit on in the bookstore (this is true even for cross-genre or sub-genre stuff – figure out who your main audience is and where they’d look for your book.) Look up a few titles of books similar to yours so that the agent or editor can relate to what you’re trying to do.

2. Be prepared for obvious questions: Why are you the right person to write this book? What made you decide to write this book? Who is the audience for this book? How will you research and write it? Again, think about what you’ll say but don’t try to memorize the answers.

3. Be prepared for not obvious questions. This is a matter of knowing your subject matter thoroughly, and understanding what you can bring to the table. I’m written a ton about women and martial arts/self defense, so I blinked when an editor said, “I’m trying to expand my line of how-to books for men. What could you do that would help them improve their training?” Fortunately, I knew a lot about martial arts in general (not just as it specifically relates to women), so I was able to formulate a credible answer.

Also, a little honesty goes a long way: “I think I know the answer to that, but I’d better double-check. May I email you the actual stats on Monday?”

4. Ask your own questions: What are you looking for? What is a common mistake writers make when pitching you? What is the most important thing a writer can do to make their book proposal more appealing? Use the time to listen, not just to talk.

5. Don’t get freaked out if the editor or agent hates your book idea. You can take the time to ask some of the questions in #4 – “Okay, then, what are you looking for? What would you like to see come across your desk today?”

Once I could tell that nothing I ever did in this lifetime would be of interest to a particular editor, so I just suggested we wrap it up and asked her if I could bring her a cup of coffee so she could have a little break before the next writer showed up. No, this never resulted in a book deal, but we ended the session feeling fine about each other and life went on.

6. Breathe. Like most people, I have a tendency to talk fast when I’m nervous or excited. I also talk too much. When I go on and on, I lose my listener. I start to sound like I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Now I have a little rule. I allow myself to say two sentences, then I shut up and give the other party a chance to say something. This gives me a chance to breathe and listen. Then, if indicated, I say two more sentences. No one seems to think I’m strange for doing this. In fact, it actually turns out to simulate a real conversation remarkably well.

7. Have a way for the agent/editor to contact you. No agent or editor is going to want to lug home fifty-seven book proposals and thirty-two full manuscripts, but there’s nothing wrong with having one sheet of paper that gives your contact information and a brief overview of your book idea. That will help the agent/editor remember you. The way to offer it is to hand over your business card (if requested), and then say, “I do have a one-sheet here, if you’d like to have that.”

What do you do to make pitch sessions go better?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The ups and downs of lately.


I didn't think I had anything too interesting to write of late because it has mostly been filled with the torture of writing a 2500 essay for my Authorship and Writing class. It's worth 50% of my mark, and since everyone in the class agrees that it is the most hideous question of all questions ever, it's been really really hard to write. Which is why I'm here and not writing my essay. Because I don't understand my essay. And if I don't understand it, then I doubt my lecturer will understand it.
So now I'm here.

There have actually been some ups and downs of late, nothing too dramatic, or I'm just riding a perpetual wave of "meh, whatever" like calm. Aside from the constant moaning and complaining about my essay.

Received my passport. Yay!
Crappy photo - of course. Boo!

Went shopping with my sister and bought a new phone that is made of awesome and does NOT turn off mid-phone call just cos it feels like it. Yay!

Also bought lots of snazzy new clothes so that I don't feel quite so much like the country bogan that I'm ever so slowly turning into. Yay!

Spent lots and lots of money. The Rudd Stimulus package money that I erm...haven't received yet. Boo! (Or - you're a tool, Sarah!)

Had my feature article on Uni students and financial woes published in Lots Wife Magazine in Melbourne AND The Star Newspaper in Gippsland. Yay!

Did I get paid for either of them? No. Boo!

Have been officially accepted into Leeds University for next semester. Yay!

Have been going around checking out flight details for my little sojourn across the USA with Eleanor, and then over to Europe. We're talking $3800! Boo!

Student Visa for the UK is $290! Boo!

Tourist Visa for USA is free! Yay!

Application Visa for USA is $180. Boo!

Have been writing "The In With Santa" in Script Frenzy which I started writing 2 years ago, but never finished. I'm pleased with how it's going. Yay!

Have stopped writing "The In With Santa" until I get these stupid assignments finished. Two due on Monday, one due on Friday. Boo!

Bought tickets to see Mark Watson and Danny Bhoy at the Comedy Festival next week. Tres excited. Yay!

Will have to miss some classes and Badminton to go to them...meh. I can live with that.

Went home to celebrate my birthday early with my family, we went to Dutchie's Stone Grill Restaurant on Phillip Island. I'd never been there before. You cook your food in front of you, on - surprisingly - a stone grill. Was fun and different. Yay!

My sister is paying for half of my passport and my parents are paying for one of my visas for my birthday. Yay!

My doggie Tessa gave me a birthday card, showing that even though she tries to fake me out sometimes, she really loves me. Yay! (The card was written in my mum's handwriting, so I guess mum helped her).

Decided to go out and buy dinner tonight in congratulations for writing...erm...200 words of my assignment. Yay!

As I was rounding the roundabout, a single mum with no car insurance ran into my car and put a big ol' dent in my door. Not exactly Boo, but aw... I feel bad for her. NO CAR INSURANCE.

Tomorrow is my BIRTHDAY! I'm turning 25! Yay!

I will be spending it writing and stressing about assignments. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

That's all.

Love Sairz

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's not actually half bad...

Well I braced myself to read some terrible writing last night. You wanna know what I did? I printed out my entire NaNaNoWriMo 08 book (okay, so only half of it because the printer got stuck and I choose to ignore that it needs to be fixed until I really really need it again) to have a read. Why was I sure this was going to be such a bad read?

Cos it TOTALLY changed throughout NaNo. It was supposed to be all bloggy, about a girl who's blog turns into an agony aunt situation with kids from her school, and soon she finds she's being accosted by kids in the bathroom wanting help with problems when really, she's 15 years old and a lot of the time is giving really bad advice.

So yeah, that was the premise but then it took this huge tangent and the whole blogging thing was forgotten and it all sounded like too much work so it took me 5 months to get up the courage to read it. I decided that it would be more interesting to read, god help me, than stupid academic books for my assignment due in 2 weeks.

A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a think about this book I was afraid to read because of the sheer enormity of editing that would be involved, and I realised that the tangent it went on, well I kinda liked that. So it wasn't really going to be a case of fixing the end, but maybe bringing the START in line with what happens later.

Well I had a NEW revelation when I started reading it last night. The blogs she writes? Totally awesome. I really have a strong character voice in there. I'll post her first blog - which isn't going to be part of the finished product - below. The regular narrative though, seems really weak in comparison. So I've decided to keep the TANGENT plot, but do it through a diary format, blogs and emails between her friends, which will hopefully help me keep her voice.

MJ, the main character has been bugging me lately. Every story I've been trying to write she's popped up in, in disguise. Like underneath the character of Ruby Vega was MJ playing dress ups. So it's good that I'm keeping her original story. Plus she gets two sequels which I'm sure she's happy about.

Wow. I sound like a crazy writer lady.

On another note, my Screnzy is going well, even though I'm totally cheating and not writing a WHOLE hundred pages in the 30 days, but writing the final 52 to make a 100 page screenplay, it feels good to be nearing the deadline. I've done 9 pages so far and it's coming along fairly well.

What's my Script Frenzy about?


See that? Parents fighting? Little girl telling Santa what she wants...? My Santa shouldn't be that old, but whatevs. Okay so I've made better mock ups and it's not exactly how I picture it but anyhoo. That's what it's about.

I can't really remember what else I was going to say now. Which leads me to think I may have to get up and go do some research for my journalism article, or ee gads read something that I can hopefully reference in my writing assignment. And get ready to go to my Psychology lecture.

Oh! Before I do that, guess what I've been reading this past week and got completely hooked on? I didn't think it was going to happen because yes, I love Meg Cabot but didn't think I'd get into her younger stuff. I wanted to give them ago, because my next BOOK (as opposed to movie which I'm writing now) is about an 11 year old.

Gotta say, they may be for the youngin's but Allie Finkle can teach us all a few lessons. Well done Meg for some great books. I read all three.

Okay well that's it from me.

Below is MJ's first blog entry so you'll get to see what she's all about. She's being little miss agony aunt. Which in the actual book, I've decided she won't be.

Hope you enjoy!

Subject: Boys. AGAIN

Okay guys and gurlz, Miss Jem here, ready and willing to answer all your questions about life and love. I don’t know why you ask me but you do so here I am answering away. No refunds if you don’t like the answer. My opinion is my opinion and I really don’t care if you disagree. Why no refunds, you ask? Cos you’re not paying me! Cheapskates. But whatever. Here we go.

Today’s q:

Dear Miss Jem,
My boyfriend and I have been together like a month, and he’s so nice and sweet when we’re alone but when we’re at school and around his friends he blows me off and treats me like any other girl. What am I doing wrong?
From Sad Girl

Well Sad Girl, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I think your boyfriend has a disease that lots of boys get. It’s called buttfacedom. When boys are around their friends they turn into complete morons, have you ever noticed that? But because girls mature at a much, much faster rate than boys (I learned that in Health yesterday – it makes so much sense!) when you’re alone he’s probably overcome with your aura of maturity and adjusts his behaviour accordingly.

So I say just ride it out until it becomes so annoying that you have to go up to him while he’s in the middle of his friends and yell in his face to either grow up and acknowledge you, or dump him HARD in front of all of his friends, preferably the whole school or shopping centre or wherever you are. That way there’s no doubting whether you were the dumper or dumpee. God it’s horrible being the dumpee. Especially when they don’t actually do it but move onto slutty girls without even a ‘it was fun while it lasted’. Don’t be the dumpee!

But back to your problem - I see it all the time at school, girls wondering why after hooking up at a party, the boy isn’t talking to them, like at ALL at school. People can be totally two-faced. Like the Ho Bag (the evil boy stealing whore), she’s all giggly and cuddly and cute as a button when she’s with Cam but as soon as he’s gone she’s all squinty eyed and snarling and throwing the basketball at my face or back, rather than my hands, in P.E. She’s such a cow. But she has to be nice to Cam because he wouldn’t be with her otherwise, would he?

They’re so stupid. I hate them both.
I don’t know why you people ask me these questions about your boyfriends and why he hasn’t called you yet because I’ve never had what I would consider a good proper relationship and if you’ve been reading this blog at all you would know that. I live a truly sad, pathetic life in which I have a thing with a guy last year, where we’re hanging out but not dating but there is a bit of making out and then the next day he’s gone off to be with the Ho Bag. Probably because she’s a slutty McSlut-slut. But is that really what guys want in a girl? Someone experienced who’ll do whatever? Clearly it isn’t cos I’m so not a slutty McSlut-Slut but Cam still wanted to patch things up for a bit when he and Ho Bag were having a fight. But I didn’t fall for that. Well, not very much anyway. Being a place holder sucks.

Regardless, my boy experience is hardly worth mentioning and I say the Ho Bag and her play thing can go puck themselves. They’re both dead to me and that’s my final word. Actually I guess I have had a little more experience but it so doesn’t count.

Hope that answered your question,
Posted by Miss Jem @ 8:43PM

Sairz's note - so yeah. That's MJ for ya. What a pain in the arse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Screnzy....mwahaha!

Screnzy's on, people!!

Okay so the mwahaha was maybe a bit of overkill, considering it's more of an exciting thing than an evil thing. But it just felt right for some reason so I went with it. Now I've wasted a precious few seconds of your life with my rambling on about somethng not even minutely important. And now I've wasted a few more seconds...moving on.

Screnzy, woo! Last year's Screnzy didn't go so well because I had an extremely stressful April. But those issues are long gone and I think, aside from the masses of assignments due this month, it should all go smoothly. Plus I'm not as stressed? Ya wanna know why?
Because I'm cheating.
I'm actually using the imposed deadline of Screnzy to finish a screenplay I started writing two years ago. And it was coming along pretty well, too! All in all, as half a first draft's go, it's a pretty good one. So I'm finishing it. I have 48 pages written, and have 30 days to write another 52. I think I can do this. Less than 2 pages a day, I mean, come on!
However, I have been sitting at this computer for probably 2 hours now and have become extremely absorbed in FaceBook, email and other people's blogs. And through other people's blogs I applied to a couple of literary agents. So it's not like I was TOTALLY unproductive.
Anyhoo. Screnzy.