For those of you who don't know, next week is the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference in NYC. This is the biggie, the grand poo-bah, the conference we romance writers start countdowns for the minute the last one ends. It's basically four days of non-stop awesomeness--workshops, book signings, parties, and best of all hanging out with writers/industry professionals from all around the world.
If you've never been and you write anything with a romantic thread (including you YA-ers), you should make a point to get to this conference one year.
So anyway, this means that next week I will be too busy to blog. (Though I will be tweeting from the conference, so be sure to tune into that.)
But since I won't be around, I've hooked you up with a week's worth of awesome guest bloggers. Yay! And I'm actually starting the guest blogging a little early. The fabulous Lindsey Bell sent me this post and I told her I had to put it up early because for those of you going to the conference (or any place where you'll have to pitch or promote yourself). This is great advice.
So take it away, Lindsey...
How to Promote When You’re Too Shy to Promote
by Lindsey Bell
If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s this: I’m shy. I’m an introvert at my core. Public speaking makes me nervous. Talking to editors intimidates me. My voice even gets shaky when I talk to other authors. I guess there’s a part of me that still wonders if my writing is any good. You’d think getting published would alleviate these fears, but for me, it hasn’t. I’m still shy. But…I’m learning to manage it.
Last fall, I did something I’ve avoided for years. I pitched my book to several editors and agents at a writing conference. Yes, I was petrified. Yes, I was drenched in sweat by the time the pitches were over. (Seriously, I should have brought an extra shirt.) But it was worth it. I met my agent at one of those pitch sessions, and we’ve been working together for the past six months to get my manuscript polished and submitted.
As a writer who has finally learned how to manage shyness, I feel obliged to pass along some tips to other nervous writers.
- Dress the part. I try to wear professional-looking outfits when I talk with editors, agents, or other authors. I’m telling you, it works. Just as wearing a fancy new dress makes you feel pretty, wearing a professional outfit makes you feel like a professional (even when everything inside of you is screaming that you’re not).
- Come prepared. When you go to a writing conference and plan to promote your work, be prepared. Bring your book proposal and sample chapters. (In fact, I’d bring several copies of your proposal, just in case you run into another editor who likes your work). You should also bring business cards.
- Perfect your pitch. The pitch should be a couple of sentences long and include the title, theme, and basic story line of your book. Once you’ve written your pitch, practice it. Have it so well memorized that you can say it without even really thinking about it.
- Remember that they are people too. Editors, agents, and other authors are just like you. Try to take them off the pedestal and view them as normal human beings. It’s also helpful to remember that they are rooting for you. They want you to succeed.
- Believe in yourself. So what if you’re a first-time author? So what if you are young . . . or old . . . or whatever thing you think makes you less qualified? Believe in your writing, and believe in yourself. Because when you do, you’re a lot more likely to find someone else who will believe in you as well. J
Good luck, and happy pitching!
Lindsey Bell is a nonfiction author, stay-at-home mother, wife, and blogger. She is working with the Blythe Daniel Agency to find a publisher for her parenting book entitled “Searching for Sanity.” When she’s not writing or chasing after her two-year-old son, Rylan, she’s likely spending time with her husband, Keith. Or then again, she might be taking a nap.
Thanks so much, Lindsey!
So are you shy like me and Lindsey? Does the idea of pitching make you want to curl into the fetal position? What things have helped you get through conferences or pitch sessions? And who is going to be at RWA next week?