Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kelly Wilson on What to Expect From a Pitch Conference @LiveCheap #WriteTip #AmWriting #SelfPub

What to Expect From a Pitch Conference

Pitch conferences are fun for writers who enjoy punishment, meeting new people, describing in one sentence their 50,000 word piece of art, sweating profusely, and learning a ton of valuable information about writing.

My favorite pitch conference was in New York City in mid-September, where the temperature was a pleasant 75 to 80 degrees, accompanied by 1000% humidity. The place was a swampland, and I was the sweaty queen.

On the 16th floor of the building where the pitch conference was held, I was joined in the registration line by the clone of Heidi Klum - taller than me (and I'm tall), size 2, long blond hair, dazzling smile, not sweating. I avoided looking at her. I was trying to a) stop sweating and 2) keep from bolting out the door. Because if this was what writers looked like, I was clearly out of my league.

I bolted for the door, but only to head to the bathroom in order to mop the sweat from my visible surfaces and try to get a hold of my moist nerves.

When I came back to the registration room, I was relieved to discover that Non-Sweaty-Heidi-Klum-Clone was the most attractive person in the room, and the rest just looked normal and ready to throw up from nerves, which is how I'm sure I looked. Because pitching a book to big-time editors is scary…but worth it.

Take a Buddy
If possible, take a writing buddy with you to the pitch conference. Having a person you trust with you will help arrest the crippling insecurity that most writers are subject to. Plus, there’s someone to share all of the positives and negatives that happen along the way.  You and your buddy can also practice your pitches until you want to burn them in the ashtrays located outside the conference doors.

Practice Until You Want to Poke Your Eyes Out
If it’s not possible to take a buddy, writers at pitch conferences are overall a helpful bunch. I still keep in contact with writers I met at the last pitch conference I attended a couple of years ago. And all of them want to practice their pitches. Grab a couple of writers you connect with and start practicing, because nothing beats muscle memory while you try to deliver your pitch and not faint.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Writers are introverts. We sit in dark rooms when the sun is out and make up stories and then ask other people to judge those stories and offer advice on how to improve what we’ve written and we LOVE it.

But for writing conferences where networking and schmoozing are required, we need to heave ourselves out of our introvert recliners and actually talk with people. As an introvert, I understand how torturous this is, and I have the advantage of being able to perform in a disassociative state (thank you, lifetime of trauma) as a comedian, even while simply mingling with people. Yes, I hate talking to people I don’t know, but I learned how to do it by faking it over several years and basically copying other people who are good at it.

Remember the Purpose
The purpose of attending the pitch conference isn’t to sell your book.
Let me say that again. The purpose of attending the pitch conference isn’t to sell your book. I know this idea isn’t pleasant, but stick with me. Statistics say that many pitches will be delivered, less will be listened to, even less will lead to a manuscript request and/or business card from an editor or agent, and a tiny percentage – about the size of the microscopic dust motes that live in our eyebrows – will actually sell their work at the conference.

The purpose is to learn how to pitch, a statement which sounds so easy and innocent. The reality is that boiling down a complicated 50,000 word piece of fiction or nonfiction into one or two sentences that will capture the imagination of the listener is an invaluable skill that you will be able to use throughout your career. Plus, sweaty or not, you will surely get at least one entertaining story out of it.

Bio: Kelly Wilson is a Portland, Oregon author and comedian who continues to sweat through writing conferences of all kinds. She is the author of Live Cheap & Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Caskets From Costco, along with numerous articles and short stories for children and adults. Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, and cat, with a stereotypical minivan in the garage. Read more about her at

Caskets From Costco
For twenty years, Kelly Wilson thought that she had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. She had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off her list.

Except that Kelly was totally deluded. And she didn’t discover that until Jim, her beloved father-in-law, died. She found herself drying off from her shower the morning after his death, really hoping that he couldn’t see her naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes.

From that moment, Kelly's path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. She somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and she doesn't have a good sense of direction.

But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen?


Caskets From Costco is a funny book about grief that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Memoir, Humor
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kelly Wilson on Facebook & Twitter


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