In a matter of days, I’ll be sitting in a chair across from one of the most intimidating people I’ll ever meet.
A New York editor.
Am I exaggerating? Probably. That doesn’t stop me from being nervous. See, this weekend is the 25th annual Emerald City Writers’ Conference, and I’ve signed up to pitch to one of the attending editors. I’ve been frantically polishing Game of Shadows because I want it to be done by the time the conference rolls around. In fact, between shining up my words and trying to finish the re-write of Touch, I’ve forgotten one crucial part.
The actual pitch.
I’ve only actually done an in-person pitch three times before. Twice at my first ECWC and once back in February at an all-day workshop. So while I’m used to writing blurbs and sort of used to writing query letters, my brain can’t quite translate that into an in person pitch. My pulse starts rabbitting and my tongue ends up in knots and I usually get something out of sequence and I swear you can hear my voice shaking. All the practical advice I’ve heard just flies right out the window. I’ll have my notecards clutched in my hands and I’ll know exactly what happens in my story and I’ll still think I’ve screwed up.
Part of it comes from how badly I want this. Normally, to get your manuscript in front of a New York editor, you have to have your agent submit it for you. I don’t have an agent. For the most part, I don’t have a use for one right now. So that leaves me with these pitch appointments as my only opportunity to get in front of an editor who wouldn’t otherwise see my work.
But the pitch is only half the battle. I’ve heard rumors that there are a number of agents and editors who will ask for partials or fulls at conferences and only read the first page because they make so many requests. While I don’t know if this editor is one of them, I’m scared all the same.
Because I’m way too attached to this story.
There are a number of places I could submit Game of Shadows that don’t require an agent, and if the ultimate answer is no, I’ll do that. I’ll be pretty fucking disappointed, though, if it comes to that. Not only am I attached to this story, I’m attached to the idea of this story being acquired by this publisher.
Let this be a warning to you, kids – don’t do this. Getting so attached to working with one particular publisher on one particular story can make a rejection a devastating blow. I’m reminding myself on a daily basis that if this editor says no, there’s still a chance that someone else will say yes – and that yes could kick my writing career to the next level. Just because this editor is New York doesn’t mean the book will succeed. There are plenty of small press and digital first titles from non-New York publishers that have garnered large reader bases for their authors, not to mention all the self-pub successes.
So I have options. I know I have options. I’d be a fool not to explore these options. And as I sit in that chair and try to remember what Game of Shadows is about, I’ll remind myself of those options, take a deep breath, and tell her about a college student who also happens to be an assassin.