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Number one reason to memorize your pitch. | Laura Pauling

Number one reason to memorize your pitch.

First, I’m sure you’re all dying to know whether I wore my daughter’s white lace headband over the weekend.

I didn’t. Even though she begrudgingly granted me permission to wear it. Plain and simple it didn’t look right on me. #nowthatwegotthatoutoftheway

What I will never forget from New England SCBWI:

  • Cheering for Kris Asselin’s nonfiction published books during the Books Published This Year slideshow.
  • Spending time with my crit partners: Kris, Jen, and Ansha.
  • Hanging with Heather Kelly from Edited to Within an Inch of My Life.
  • Meeting blogger and writer Alicia Gregoire even though she looked totally different in person. #lovetomeetfellowbloggers  #she’sreallynice
  • The worst stomachache I’ve ever had because of my complete nervous freak out before my query critique with the Incredibly Nice Agent. I couldn’t eat dinner and it didn’t go away until the next day. #i’msoprofessional
  • The incredible spot-on critiques I received on my query and first ten pages.
  • The Starbucks coffee.  #wishicouldblameitformystomachache

My top two moments:

1. By Sunday morning my brain was fried and my words weren’t exactly matching my thoughts. Over coffee, Alicia and I were talking about kidlit courses in college. I mentioned one of my favorite books. And this is what I said:

Where the Red Fern Groans.  #noidon’twriteerotica  #iswear

2. My impromptu verbal pitch with Incredibly Nice Agent.

Joyce thought she was being real cute and invited Incredibly Nice Agent over to talk with a group of writers.  #iwantedtorun

Five seconds into the conversation, she asked if he was up for a verbal pitch from all of us.  My stomachache returned immediately!

While I waited for my turn, my heart almost pounded through my chest. I think it echoed throughout the lobby. I panicked trying to remember my first line. Even though I was terrified, I did it.

Even though we all threw Joyce our death stares, we all agreed it turned out to be an amazing opportunity to practice our pitches with an incredibly gracious agent, who was put on the spot. Thank you Joyce and Incredibly Nice Agent.

Always memorize your pitch!

What’s your best, worst, or funniest conference memory?

35 Responses to Number one reason to memorize your pitch.

  1. anne gallagher May 16, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I’m sorry I’ve never been to a conference and I think that’s the very reason. I’d be the one walking around with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol all day.

    Congratulations though, on getting through the pitch. I’m sure Incredibly Nice Agent realizes everyone is nervous. Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you did just fine.

  2. Katie Ganshert May 16, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    What a great experience! It’s such a terrifying thing though, isn’t it? I wonder why that is….

    • Laura May 16, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      Looking back, it was an incredible opportunity! And it was worth the stomachache! Totally.

  3. Susan Kaye Quinn May 16, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Good for you (with the impromptu pitch!) – yeah, I probably would be wanting to throw up by the time my turn came round.

    Sounds like an amazing experience. #evenwithouttheheadband

  4. Kip May 16, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    LOL, great experience! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Stina Lindenblatt May 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I have to work on my pitch, especially since in less than two hours, I’m going to be signing up for my first ever pitch session. I’m nervous already!!!!

    (Of course I’m more nervous right now of not getting my first choice (she’s currently closed to queries) or that none of my choices are the best ones for my story (it’s hard to know what they really want)).

  6. Sheri Larsen May 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    So cool, you and Heather could hang out!! Thank you for sharing your experience from the conference. I’ve yet to be able to attend one in person. My two online conference experiences have been great, though. 🙂

  7. Karen Lange May 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Wow, I’ll remember that, thanks! Glad you had a good time (except for the stomachache!). The conferences I’ve attended have been good. I did have the opportunity to sit at the same lunch table as the keynote speaker for one. This author/editor/speaker was very gracious, even when my answer to the question he’d asked me kind of missed the mark. I was nervous and on a “different page” than he was. About three beats later I realized it. Oh well, live and learn.

  8. christine danek May 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Congrats on remembering the pitch.
    I met with an editor at a conference for my first 10 pages and a synopsis. I was so nervous. I totally psyched myself out that this was a learning experience and she would not say a nice thing about my work. So I had a list of questions (thanks to Elana Johnson) to ask.
    The first thing the editor said was that she liked the idea and the synopsis. My mind went blank and I forgot all my questions. I had them written, but I was so excited that she liked something I became almost giddy.
    Of course, I needed to revise…a lot, and she totally felt bad she had to tell me to revise. She may have thought that I was weird because I just smiled thanking her because I was so excited she liked my idea and synopsis.
    Okay, that was such a long comment. Sorry.

    • Laura May 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      I know agents have a blurb describing what they want. But Incredibly Nice Agent was open to way more than what he was “known” for. It was amazing to learn that. If it’s within what they rep, I think they’re all just looking for writing to connect to!

  9. Creepy Query Girl May 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I’ve never been to a conference- in Paris there aren’t very many for people who write in english and the ones they do hold are with UK agents and costs a fortune. I’d love to hit up the NE conference one year! It sounds like a wonderful experience!

  10. Angela Felsted May 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    That sounds scary!

  11. Theresa Milstein May 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    I enjoyed talking to you and Alicia on Friday night.

    How’d I miss the pitch? I’m sure that was frightening. When I’m nervous, there’s no such thing as memorized.

    I have to say, I handled my query and manuscript critiques nervousness very well this year. My deodorant didn’t get a workout.

  12. Jessica R. Patch May 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    My worst moment was when I pitched to my mentor and she looked over my stuff then asked, “Who are you pitching to?”

    I said, “blah, blah LITERACY group.” I so meant literary! Sigh.

    There were so many great things that overshadowed that little flub. I met my crit partner, which was great and I got meet tons of incredible people.

  13. Lisa Green May 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Hooray! I’m so glad you had a good experience (sorry about the tummy ache though) Congrats on that. I’m dying to know what super nice agent said… #Illtrynottopry

  14. Paul Greci May 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    The first writer’s conference I ever went to I found myself in an elevator. Just me and three agents. I made a joke about elevator pitches. I don’t remember if anyone laughed…

  15. Angela Ackerman May 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I’m glad you had such a great time. I wish I could have been there because it sounds like there was a lot of really great content, and a lot of folks I know went! Oh well, maybe next time…

    And YAY for you and your pitch! I’m sure you did fantastic. 🙂

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  16. Karen Strong May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Sounds like you had a fabulous time! I always end up with like a information overload headache when these things are over, but I still loves it!

    My most funniest moment was when I was in the bathroom with who I thought was another conference attendee and we started talking about shoes (I know no surprise there) and she turned out to be an agent. It was a great ice-breaker.

  17. Sherrie Petersen May 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I SO relate to this! I barely eat during conferences, especially if I have an editor meeting or pitch, because my stomach is in knots! But yeah, meeting bloggers in person is such a blast!! I’m glad the critiques and pitches went well for you. Sounds like you had a great time 🙂

  18. LynNerd May 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    I can relate to all the jittery nerves at conferences. Goes with the territory, I guess. I’m glad you had a wonderful time.

    I shouldn’t even admit to this experience. It was at the SDSU annual conf. in San Diego and was my first time there. During lunch, there were agents and editors at our table so we could ask them questions. One agent told us she felt terrible because she missed the meeting with one attendee. She got the schedule mixed up and was in listening to another speaker. They kept trying to call her but she’d turned her cell off. She rescheduled that appt., but she felt so bad. I told the agent, “Oh, well, those things happen. Don’t let it get to you.” She was the agent I had an appt. with the next day and I told her I’d see her then.

    Next day I greeted her and plopped in the chair, ready to get her valuable input. She told me, “You won’t believe it, I just had a No Show!”

    “You’re kidding?” How could someone not show up for such an important meeting? Especially after paying $45!

    Then a woman walked over and said she was scheduled with the agent. We both told the agent our names. The agent checked the schedule and told me that I was the No Show! I had paced back and forth right outside the door during the whole ten-minute session, but was so fatigued when I wrote my meeting time on my conf. schedule that I wrote down the ending time by mistake. How incredibly stupid, but the agent was super gracious (since she’d made a mistake herself the day before!) and she met with me later that day. So I got my ten minutes with her after all, but it was quite embarrassing.

  19. Alicia Gregoire May 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    It was so nice to meet you in person! I’m still laughing over Where the Red Fern Groans.

  20. Diana Renn May 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Among my worst conference memories: I once had a chance to eat at a lunch table with Lois Lowry. Sat almost next to her and said not one word. Not one word! Completely tongue tied. Glad you too had a great time at the conference. Good for you for pitching on the spot. And great blog, by the way!

  21. Eleni Alexandraki May 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Yeah, I totally get the nerves from getting your query critiqued! But, I wish I had had a chance to do that, too!

    Memorizing your pitch sounds really smart…

  22. Sara McClung May 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    omg I would have DIED having to pitch on the spot like that. So yes, your title is SPOT ON.

  23. Ansha Kotyk May 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    My brain was truly fried by Sunday. Completely. But the conference was wonderful. They always are. My only regret is not being able to spend MORE time with my awesome critique group!!

  24. Pam Torres May 16, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Great post! I have my first conference complete with pitch to agent in less than two months. #scaredoutofmymind Where the Red Fern Groans sound like something I would easily to. Enjoyed your prior posts about preparing, too.

  25. Pam Torres May 16, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Great post! I have my first conference complete with pitch to agent in less than two months. #scaredoutofmymind Where the Red Fern Groans sound like something I would easily do. Enjoyed your prior posts about preparing, too.

  26. Bekah Snow May 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Well, I go to meet these wonderful fellow bloggers: Lisa Gail Green, Julie Musil, and Leslie Rose. It was great to chat in person. It was very helpful to have my one sentence pitch ready, even though I said it only to fellow writers. I didn’t have to stumble or think really!

  27. Traci Kenworth May 17, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    OMG, Laura, I would have been so terrified I probably would have forgotten how to form sentences together. lol. I’m glad you got a chance to experience that though, it means the next one will be a little less nerve-wracking(or hopefully anyways)…

  28. Patti Nielson May 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I hope you have recovered from your stomach ache, that would be totally terrifying to pitch your book not only in front of an agent, but everyone else at the table. I was nervous just telling my daughters 3rd grade class what my book was about.

  29. Tana Adams May 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Years ago I went to the BEA an accidentally landed myself in a pitch workshop that would ring everyone up on stage to share their pitch with at least seventy people. No pressure, right? I got up and left and even that made me nervous lol! I hated doing stuff like that. People still ask what my books are about and my mind goes blank. I once forgot the titles of my novels under the pressure of merely being asked by my Uncle. *sigh*

  30. Margo May 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Where the Red Fern Groans… awesome! I groan at my first pitch memory. It was – too many years ago to admit the exact number, and I was a complete newbie to the publishing business. I’d written my first book, had a friend critique it, and I was ready to go!! I had a critique session with the editor before my pitch, and I was almost ashamed to show up for the pitch after that, but she was very kind.

  31. Ghenet May 18, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I’m glad the conference went well! I definitely need to write and memorize my pitch. Then hope that when given the opportunity to present it, I don’t totally mess it up!

  32. Jemi Fraser May 18, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Sounds fantastic!!! (except for the stomach ache!)

    I think I’d be so nervous, I’d babble and giggle. This is NOT a pretty sight! So glad you enjoyed it all 🙂

    And I’m never going to be able to talk about Where the Red Fern Grows without smiling again!

  33. Heather Kelly May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Laura–what an amazing conference! The feeling was absolutely mutual–I loved hanging out with you. I was bummed out I had to leave Saturday night. Maybe we can all get together some weekend to just talk and write? What fun would that be? We’ll get Joyce to invite Chris. LOL

    I loved that pitch thing–even though I could hear my own knees knocking together! Chris was so gracious. Even though I’m sure not much will come of it, it was a fun experience to live through! Especially after I had decided to make it such a low key event for myself–since I wasn’t ready to query. Then BAM. Pitch your story!

    Always be prepared is my new writing mantra. That and THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER, just because it’s so cool.

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