I tell my students that I want to be a writer when I grow up. I’ve honestly thought that I had NO chance at all–that this was just some fantasy. However, my sweet little family has been supporting me along the way and that has given me the courage to get out there and at least…try.
Yesterday, I experienced something I never even knew existed. I attended a writer’s conference on the Plaza here in Kansas City with around 100 other writers. My sweet friend told me about this conference over a month ago and I have been eagerly waiting for this adventure. I even set up a countdown on my phone. Upon payment for this conference, I selected a “10-minute moment with Literary Agent.”
Now, I have to say that I just leap most times without really thinking or worrying. Since I don’t have any background knowledge on the writing world, I just paid the fees and prepped my first 10 pages to be sent to the literary agent of my choice. I chose Heather Cashman as the literary agent I would submit my pages to. Upon reading her bio, I saw that she was interested in every inch of my book without even reading it: “Romance, women’s fiction, and small-town romances.” Ummmm… that pretty much sums it up!
When my time finally arrived at 11:30 am, I walked up to Cashman sitting at a blank black table. Sitting in front of her was a small box of business cards. I shook her hand, made eye-contact, and grinned with all the excitement I was feeling. I had no idea what to expect and was waiting for, “Here are the things you need to work on and I’m not interested in your book at the moment, it’s just not what I’m looking for.” Instead, we just stared at each other for a short few seconds until I broke the silence.
“I sent you my pages.” Smile.
“I didn’t get your pages.”
“Really? Jessie Lewis? For the Love of Rage? I sent them and even got a confirmation email that they were received.”
Instead of panicking, I just went with it. Cashman was apologetic and hated that she didn’t have them. She told me to send them to her and that she would call me.
Got it, I could do that. So… now what?
“What’s your book about?”
A pitch? A real life pitch? Was this happening? I had never even heard of “pitching” until Friday night when my sister sent me articles on how to have a great pitch. I ignored them because I signed up for my feedback on my first 10 pages; not a pitch. And then there I was, pitching.
I talked to her about my main character, the struggles she goes through in the book, her love interests, the mystery, and of course the romance. When I was all done she said, “I actually really like it.”
I’m sorry what? You what? You like it? Are you sure? You mean my book idea sounds interesting? My face was in flames and my hands were shaking. I didn’t know what to do or say. We talked some more and even made a connection between one of my characters and her husband. I couldn’t believe it!
During lunch I decided to take a look at my PayPal receipt to see if I actually did pay for the 10-minute feedback critique or if I made a mistake and paid for the pitch instead. It read, “10-minute session with literary agent.” Well if that wasn’t clear as mud. Overwhelmed with confusion, I headed towards the registration desk. And low and behold, Cashman was sitting there visiting with a friend. I debated with myself, do I approach? How much of an idiot would I sound like if I confessed that I may not have paid for a 10-minute feedback critique?
She spotted me and asked if I had any questions. I spilled the beans.
“I just pulled up my PayPal receipt and it says that I paid for a 10-minute session with a literary agent. Is that a pitch or a critique?”
“It’s a pitch,” Cashman said smiling, “Which you did that and I liked it.”
Again, she said she liked it! What?
“Well, I already sent you my first 10 pages. you don’t have to read them. I’m sorry I’m such a dork.”
“You’re not a dork! It’s totally fine. We will work it out.”
I felt ridiculous. Just like classic Jessie to jump in feet first. So I basically accidentally pitched to Heather Cashman which turned out not to be an accident after all. Imagine that!
Now, I wait. I eagerly wait for the next step. What will become of my book?