Several of our VIPs have offered to take consultations, as well as pitches, but how do you know which one applies to you?
NO FINISHED MANUSCRIPT – You definitely want a consultation. If you try to pitch an unfinished manuscript (or worse, just an idea), there is a real chance that the VIP may start flipping tables and call for security to escort you out of the building. Imagine sitting down to watch a movie and instead you get three minutes about this cool idea the studio head had….just don’t do it.
FINISHED MANUSCRIPT/FIRST DRAFT – Nope. See above. Run that manuscript through critique groups, edit the hell out of it, and then you can call it finished.
FINISHED MANUSCRIPT/POLISHED – Yes, you can pitch! If you are seeking representation by that VIP, swallow your nerves and pitch.
There are lots of tutorials on how to pitch, but not much said on how to prepare for a consultation. The number one thing is to know what you expect to gain from the consultation. (Hint – if it is a request for pages, you will be disappointed.) Do you have a question about your genre classification? Want to know about the market for your type of book? Curious about what the VIP thinks makes a good book?
The second thing to consider is that the VIP is doing you a favor, so keep your expectations in line. (They don’t get paid to attend – they are hoping to sign their next big author. Consultations pay them the same rate as exposure, so be kind.) They are fantastic people and actually love to help writers set upon a good path, but they are not machines that can spit out statistics and marketing plans in ten minutes. If you don’t get exactly the information you sought, know that it is not because they didn’t want to help.
The third thing applies to pitches and consultations – VIPs are people, too. They somersault into their pants ands shoes in one fell swoop, perfect teeth gleaming beside a winking dimple, just like the rest of us. Don’t be afraid of them – they won’t be mean. (Unless you try to pitch an unfinished manuscript, in which case all bets are off.) Respect their time. (No bathroom or meal time pitches or consults.) Talk about something else if you bump into them at the bar. (Not the fact that they took a family vacation to Florida last year – that’s creepy. (The fact you know, not the vacation.))
You are about to be blown away with the opportunities to learn, and the graciousness of industry professionals. Don’t waste it because you are all tied up worrying about ten minutes of a two-day event.
Get out there and be amazing.