This is going to be yet another one of those “advice I should follow myself before I dispense it” posts.
I, like many other authors, have been rejected far more often than I’ve been accepted. From big publishing houses to small press folks, I’ve heard the word NO at least a dozen times before hearing a single YES. It’s something for you aspiring young novelists wrapping up NaNoWriMo to keep in mind when you have your shiny new novel in hand and want to see it get ink.
It applies to other writers, too, or writers between novels or edits of novels looking to keep the writing muscles in tip-top shape without engaging in exercises of long prose. Because let’s face it, you can’t run marathons all the time. The best way to stay in shape is sprints around the track. It keeps the muscles primed and ready for that long haul of 26 miles. For the writer, that means short works. Stories, articles, what have you.
That brings me to the image above. For the uninitiated, that is a pitching machine. And that is what you (and I) need to be.
Be it to anthologies of fiction or magazines like The Escapist or any other type of publication looking for fresh new work to populate their pages, you won’t get in the door if you don’t knock on it. Repeatedly. I’m not saying to be annoying, nor should you just fire off a pitch the moment an idea pops into your head. Your pitch should be just like any other work you produce: refined, edited, free of error and as note-perfect and punch-to-the-guttish as possible. That is to say, someone reading it should feel the wind go out of their lungs in at least a metaphorical sense when they realize what you’re getting at and what you can do for them.
Still, one pitch is never enough. It should never be enough. Find places to pitch, especially if they have multiple issues coming, and pitch as much as you can. Again, you don’t want to get to the point of being annoying or fire off pitches half-formed and smelling slightly of bacon grease and day-old coffee. Strike the right balance between camping outside of their place looking through their windows with envy and donning the black tie and white short-sleeved shirt with pitch in hand, ringing their doorbell over and over until they open the door to find you there with the creepiest smile ever on your face asking if they’ve heard your idea yet.
Okay, I’m straining metaphors to the point of them breaking so I think I’m making my point. At least, I hope I am. If nothing else, your pitches should be repeated, persistent, polite and nothing like this. They should not be rambling, off-the-cuff affairs with bad humor and superfluous language that obfuscate the fact that you have nothing to say.
November 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm
In the words of Alice, “I give myself some very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Also, I now want to go to the batting cages.
November 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm
This is good advice in any endeavor, not just writing. To quote someone I heard that is very smart, “If you just keep swinging, if you just keep swinging, if you just keep swinging, sooner or later you’ll hit a homerun.”