Friday, August 29, 2014

A Wild Pitch

Things have been progressing slowwwwwly with my novel. If you want to visit my Facebook page please go here. I can definitely use the motivation.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a workshop given by a new thought publisher for an extremely discounted price. The last hour of the workshop was a time for people in the audience to pitch their books. There were about one hundred people in attendance, about 80 raised their hands to pitch. We were given a form to fill out beforehand: title, genre, audience, plot, why you're the best person to write this book, yada yada yada. The hardest part of all in writing this novel has been deciding on its genre.

Earlier in the day, he gave us an assignment. Go to a book store and find the shelf where your book would be located. I had no idea where it would go. It's a novel including many subjects: coming of age, child abuse, near death experience, OCD, Galveston history, 1970's trivia, and spirituality. I have always been told it couldn't go under Christian fiction (Christianity has now been taken out since I am into New Thought) because of the foul language and child abuse. It couldn't go under historical fiction or young adult because of the foul language and people might feel spirituality was being crammed down their throats.

Only eight people were chosen to pitch. The first three people who pitched obviously knew who their audience was, and the publisher kept pushing, "Who do you think will get the most out of your book?"

My plan was to raise my hand, not too high and not with too much enthusiasm, waving my hand wildly like the woman on the third row. "If it's meant to be, he'll pick me. If not, I'll just go home and keep going." Wouldn't you know it? The publisher announced, "I see someone in an SWT T-Shirt (he lives 30 minutes from San Marcos). I pick you." Yep, it was me.

So I stood up and spoke into the microphone, literally shaking so much that the microphone was bouncing around and hit my lips. So I stated my title, plot of the novel, and then like an idiot I said (yes, I really did), "Who do I think will get the most out of my book - survivors of sexual abuse."

BIG GASP BY THE AUDIENCE - Major.Fail.On.My.Part. It was not what I meant to say - I had scratched out what I meant to say. Another moment of second guessing myself and not trusting my instinct.

So he responded first by saying, "I can tell that the subject of this book means a great deal to you." Many "aws" could be heard from the audience now. Then he asked, "By show of hands, how many of you think this book will be read by survivors of sexual abuse?" I don't think a single person raised their hand. I wanted to crawl under the chair, after I threw up first, of course.

So I said into the microphone with as much confidence as possible. "That's the problem I've been having. I can't figure out my audience. This character is not me." I repeated it, "This character is not me."

He said that my novel would be considered a coming of age story. At first, I was disappointed with this answer, considering it an insult. But then I googled popular coming of age stories, and I have read many of them. People of all ages have read them. Many have been best sellers and on college reading lists. I don't want to be a famous writer and make a lot of money, but I would like someone to at least read it and get something from it.

The other thing he said about my book is that he doesn't like the title Reverse Skate because the meaning is too deep. Unless I make the protagonist a professional roller skater or put a lot more references to skating in the book, the title should be changed. Several times during the workshop, he mentioned the term "drowning your darlings", taking things out of your manuscript that you don't want to let go of. My title is my darling. I can't imagine a different title, so I am still pondering what to do.

That night, I went home and uploaded his one and only novel onto my Kindle. I didn't care for a lot of it, and I felt like he was trying to cram a belief down his readers' throats, something he stressed for us not to do. I'm wondering if he suggested that AFTER his novel was published because he felt like he made a mistake or if he just doesn't take his on advice. There were also many things about his novel I would have changed, especially some of the cheesy dialogue.

So while I learned a lot from this man, I still feel like I am writing this novel for me, not for an audience. Writing is not going to be my profession, so I can take the liberty of writing the way I want and giving my writing the title I want. If I sell enough to cover the publishing and marketing costs and help someone in the process, then it has been worth it.

And if you find lots of typos in this post, I apologize profusely. It's hard to balance a laptop and a dog on your lap while being on potty watch (making sure the new puppy doesn't pee anywhere) at the same time.


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