I can sing in front of TV cameras or step out on stage in front of hundreds, but there’s one thing that makes my stomach tie itself into Eagle Scout quality knots: pitching.
Now I’m not talking about the baseball or cricket variety. Anyone who knows me would probably laugh at that idea anyway. No matter how many times I pitch to an editor or agent, it strikes me with terror usually reserved for nightmares.
Most of the times I have done it in the past, it has gone off smoothly. The agents/editors and I get along and they usually have requested one thing or another. I tried to keep these experiences in mind when I recently pitched to another agent.
Even during the pitch, I had the feeling this one was going to be a swing and a miss. Sure, I had never really hit a grand slam before, but at least enough to get a runner on base. I think the first clue was the eyebrow. Just one of the agent’s eyebrows shot up in a decidedly skeptical way.
I gathered up my thoughts and tried harder, but I could see it was going nowhere. Strike one, two, three…and I was out. The agent slipped my query letter back to me over the table.
Now I’m not saying that the agent was cruel or unkind in any way. An agent could have given me a consolation box of chocolates, I would have felt pretty bad about it. It was a pretty bad start to my day, and left me feeling desperately discouraged.
I found, however, that time and distance allows experiences like this to glean the silver lining. Here are some of the things I realized:
1. Better now than later. You know what happened to my other pitch sessions? I got requests, and either no response ever, or a polite refusal in 6-8 months. The honesty of this agent saved me half a year or more of anxiety. It is much better if the agent has reservations to express them up front.
2. The feedback can help. When I looked back, I realize that he said a lot more than “no thanks”. He gave me some valuable insight about my manuscript—things that I need to consider changing to improve it. That is worth much more than a simple “no thanks” form letter in six months.
3. This is not the end. As bad as any single rejection may feel at the time, it is not the person saying that you should not submit again, or should stop writing. This is a project I believe in and I will continue improving and submitting it until it has a happy home.
I always pitch whenever I get a chance, because it is good practice. I hope that you will as well, and when you do, keep a proper perspective. Just like professional baseball players, you will miss most of the things you swing at. The highest batting average ever is only around a third, and by writing standards, that would be incredible. When you finally connect and send the ball over the fence, it will be the best feeling in the world.
Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governor’s University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, and Instructional Design. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons, where he teaches in a German dual language immersion program. He enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, the Chess Quest Series and the Penultimate Dawn Cycle (The Hunger), as well as the non-fiction work, The Song of the Righteous. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, Nugent Magazine, The New Era, Keeping Tab, Allegory, and Ensign. He has also won honorable mention three times in the Writers of the Future contest.
He also runs a Come, Follow Me poetry podcast, called “Chapter and Verse”.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Young/e/B003HCB8AE