by John Foxjohn
Copyright © John Foxjohn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point
A funny thing happened to me on the way to publication. I’d finished a book and thought I was ready to pitch it. I wasn’t, but that’s another story. Anyway, I was going to attend my first conference, and as it sometime happens, the conference had agents and editors to pitch to.
I was all set to go. I had my book that I thought was ready, a willingness to publish my book, fulfill a lifelong dream, and rake in the big bucks. And I was going to accomplish all that at this conference.
Hey, what can I say? I write fiction—have a huge imagination.
Then, I realized I had never been to a writing conference before, knew nothing about it, never pitched anything other than a baseball, and figured there might be a slight difference.
At the time, I belonged to an online writers’ group. This group wasn’t affiliated with any major genre. It was just a bunch of people who wanted to be writers. No one in the group was published, but quite a few of them had been members of the group for a long time, and I figured that they must know all about writing and conferences. So, I asked.
They were all willing to give me advice. Some conflicted with the other, but two pieces they were all in agreement on: They told me that I should never ever pitch to the agents and editors at the receptions, in the elevators, or any place except the designated pitch areas at the designated times. When they told me this, it kind of made sense, and while I was at the conference, I took their advice.
Of course, I was the only writer there who did. I went home from the conference with one pitch and one partial request. Most of the writers left with six or seven partial or full requests because they were talking to the agents and editors at the receptions.
Another piece of advice these novices gave me: I needed what they called an “elevator pitch” for the agent or editor when they called me into my ten-minute session. They explained to me that I needed one, two, or three sentences that told what my book was about and would interest them enough that they would ask me to send the book to them.
Over the years, I have found the first piece of advice wasn’t that great. However, the second was not bad at all.
It wasn’t until I started out trying to come up with this sentence or two that fully explains what my book was about that I questioned their sanity. I was learning to write a synopsis at that time and couldn’t get it down to five pages, and they wanted me to do it in two sentences.
Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for my first conference. But hey, I was for the second. My book still wasn’t ready, and I still didn’t know enough to know that, but I had my elevator pitch ready.
There I was, standing in the reception area, drink in hand, and in walked a writer that I actually had met from the other conference. With her was a male writer I didn’t know. The writer I knew introduced me to the one I didn’t, and the next thing I know, the one that I knew took off and left me with the one that she’d just introduced me to.
One of these days, we will meet again—I hope. Sure would like to tell her a different kind of elevator pitch.
As it would happen, I was dressed up, suit coat, tie, the whole bit, and I’m standing there with this man, and wondering why the other one fled so fast. Out of politeness, I asked him what he wrote. Seemed like a good question.
Forty-five minutes later, I learned that the guy actually thought I was an agent, and he spent the entire time telling me about his book. Literally, forty-five minutes. I would assume that no one had advised him on the elevator pitch.
They also didn’t tell him anything else either, because to get away from him, I went to the bathroom and he followed me. It took me a while to finally figure out how to get away from him. There was no one there I knew to ditch him off to, so I finally told him to send me the manuscript.
Shocked, he asked me, “All of it—all eight hundred pages?”
To this day, I don’t know who he thought I was, or who he sent that manuscript to, but trust me, if I had been an agent or editor, I would not have touched him—no way. He bored me absolutely silly.
Now, I want you to close your eyes, imagine you are at a book signing, and a reader comes up to you and asks what most of them do: “What’s your book about?”
Are you going to give them the elevator pitch or the full synopsis? Here’s a hint: if their eyes start to glaze over, you might have chosen the wrong one.
I love hearing from you! Do you have an elevator pitch? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at www.Castelane.com.
John Foxjohn, the author of the best-selling true crime, Killer Nurse, epitomizes the phrase "been there--done that." Born and raised in the rural East Texas town of Nacogdoches, he quit high school and joined the Army at seventeen: Viet Nam veteran, Army Airborne Ranger, policeman and homicide detective, retired teacher and coach, now he is a multi-published author.
Growing up, Foxjohn developed a love of reading that will never end. In fact, he refers to himself as a "readalcoholic." He began with the classics and still lists Huckleberry Finn as one of his all time favorites. Later, he discovered Louis L'Amour and besides owning every book he wrote, Foxjohn says he's read every one of them at least five times.
However, when he was twelve, Foxjohn read a book about Crazy Horse, and decided right then he would also write one about the famous Lakota leader. After many "yondering" years as L'Amour called them, he spent ten years researching his historical fiction, Journey of the Spirit, now titled The People's Warrior.
Maybe because of his eclectic reading habits John has not limited himself to publishing in one genre. In fact, he has published mysteries, romantic suspenses, historical fiction, legal thrillers, and nonfiction Killer Nurse.
When he's not writing, teaching writing classes, or speaking to different writing groups and conferences, Foxjohn loves to spend time square dancing, working in his rose garden, or in his garage doing woodwork. However, his passion outside of family and writing is without a doubt, anything to do with the Dallas Cowboys.
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