Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How NOT To Pitch To An Editor

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I just woke up from one of the scariest dreams I've ever had--and that's saying a lot. I've lived through gruesome explosions, backed over my own child, and killed my best friend with my bare hands. (I may be a little disturbed, just saying.) But this dream was one of the worst. It went something like this.

I drove to the office of a famous editor to pitch my book. Why? because that is so how it's done, right? You just decide to drop by and tell them about your amazing story. Yeah, sure. Anywho, I sauntered into the office and stared at the mountains of slush piled everywhere. It was like I had stumbled onto the set of Hoarders, but worse somehow, because these manuscripts weren't empty pizza boxes, they were the life-time works of wanna-be writers. They were people's souls trapped in slush piles. (And yes, I can be dramatic, it's a dream.)

So, as I stood there, lost amidst the slush, the editor walked out and saw me. At fist she thought I worked for the post office. At least she did until I introduced myself and the purpose behind my visit, then she acted surprised. Weird, huh? But being a professional, she called her assistant and asked him to find my submission.

Now, this surprised me, because I hadn't submitted anything. I was going to pitch in person and make an awesome first impression. Right? Wrong. Oh so very wrong.

The assistant came out in about five seconds carrying a folder with my name on it. My name. I got excited. Somehow they knew about me! This was good right? You guessed it, wrong. Again. Are you sensing a pattern here? I am.

The editor opened the folder, and there, nestled inside, lay my submission. I stared. I think I even started to cry. Why? Was it my finished novel all professional and beautiful...and finished? No. It was my torn and battered first brainstorming notes ripped from a spiral notebook with the little hanging chad things flapping in the breeze from the air conditioning vents.

If it's possible to die in a dream and have it kill you in real life this would have done it. I stammered, then I stammered again. Then she started to read--out loud--from my "novel". I figuratively died again. It was bad. Oh so very, very bad. And the whole time, I just stood there and thought, How did you get this? How did my notes fall into your evil hands?

Then she turned the page and showed me the drawings. Little sketches of big scenes in the book. It was like some demented kindergarten teacher reading the world's freakiest horror book, because it was the death of my future. I knew deep inside that this one submission had blackballed me in the writing world. They all knew who I was. I looked down and saw, written beside my name on the folder tab, LEISHA MAW--THE CRAZY ONE.

I tried to leave, but my family showed up--all the kids, the hubby, the cats. They all came to tell the editor how much they loved my book, and that's why they'd sent in a copy without telling me. Only they sent the wrong one. Ha ha. Funny joke.

The editor sicked her dog on us. We tried to flee, but the stacks of slush toppled on us and buried us alive.

So, when you pitch to an editor, don't do that, and don't die. That's about all the wisdom I can share with you. Use it wisely.

Leisha Maw--The Crazy One.


  1. OMG that frightens me, and it wasn't even my nightmare! I think we all are secretly terrified of being "found out" as the crazy people that we think we are. There's a quote somewhere, I'll have to dig it out, that goes something like this: we're not afraid of failing, we are actually terrified of success. If you finished and submitted, there's the chance of the horror of rejection coming true. But there's also the chance you will succeed - and then what? You will have to live up to that every day for the rest of your life.

    That's a whole nother nightmare ... :)

  2. Holy cow, my palms are clammy and my heart is going wild. I've heard that dreams are where your mind prepares for the worst, but I think this one goes far beyond that and into national catastrophe status. You could take on Stephen King! Let me know how long it takes to recover.

  3. Susan, it frightens me, too. And, I so agree with the fear of success, because what if I can't reproduce it? Yikes.

    Jonene, I'm pretty sure it will take a few nights to get over it. :)

  4. Oh, Leisha. This was funny and terrifying in one. I'm crossing all my fingers and toes and braiding my hair for you. *hugs*

  5. L.T., I'm glad you got some amusement out of it. I did--after I woke up and wrote about it. He he. :)

  6. I can not stop laughing long enough to comment on this post. That was great! And told so well. I'd buy your ms based on the writing style in that post alone.

    You'll do great! Say this to yourself - editors are people. They are just people. Totally powerful mystical beings that can make all your wishes come true or leave you groveling in the slush forever--yes, that too--but most of all they are people. People who like good stories. And you have a good story.

    You go girl.

  7. Rebecca, they are totally powerful, mystical beings that haunt my dreams. Literally. And people. I will take a deep breath and be brave. :)

  8. Oh, Leisha . . . I love reading your writing. Don't let it bother you that I love reading the writing of kindergarteners (yeah, I'm a teacher). My favorite line was: "from a spiral notebook with the little hanging chad things flapping in the breeze from the air conditioning vents." Yup, great visual . . . I can totally picture it, sketches and all. =)

  9. Angelee, thanks! And if you can picture the sketches, I am truly sorry. They were horrible. Seriously. *Grin*

  10. that is crazy scary! i would so die.

  11. Amie, I did. Twice. Luckily it didn't stick and I'm still kicking. :) Thanks for droppping by the blog.

  12. Absolutely awesome dream! It is so nice to know I'm not the only one that dreams about my writing in fearful ways.

    I found your blog from Mormon Mommy Writers and just wanted to say I love it! I'm Deana on there (brand new). Anyways, I'm I'd love it if you came and checked out my new blog about my writing and journey towards publishing.


  13. Deana, welcome to the blog, and you are not alone in dream area. *Shudder*

  14. Rebecca, I did not die. *Big breath* I pitched. They requested. Now I must submit. All this equals new terror. But I am smiling. :) It was way better than having the dog sicked on me. Yup. And better than dying. :)

  15. That's great, Leisha!

    The first time I pitched to an editor the opportunity came as a complete surprise. I didn't realize I had a consultation scheduled until the lady with the clipboard came and got me out of workshop. I've often wondered if I would have made a better impression if someone had told me, or if I would have been a nervous wreck having premeditated on it too long.

    I think I would at least have ironed my shirt that morning, and maybe not worn that grey-green cap that my son says makes me look like an old bus driver.

  16. What did you do? I would have been a complete wreck. AND, you look cute in caps. That little detail made me grin.

  17. What did I do? Talked way too much, I'm afraid. And I can't say how much of what I said made any sense. But my manuscript got requested anyways. So that's what counts, right?


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