Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Critique Tuesday: Don't Be Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf During A Live Pitch

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (I'm on the verge of eliminating this bullet, because I should not be gaining weight from running my A off)
  •  1920     Calories Consumed Yesterday (don't ask me what I ate, just lots of it)
  • __2__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (including a very caloric smoothie from Jamba Juice--do you know how much sugar there is  in some of those?)
  • __0       Minutes Spent Writing (some serious shopping needed to take place on Main St. HB)
  • _0__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (reheated left overs due to eating out 2 out of 3 meals/day for 4 days)
Critique Tuesday:  THE LIVE PITCH

Once upon a time, I girded my loins, gathered my brave, and signed up for a pitch session with mega-agent, Michelle Wolfson, at a writers conference. (Miss Wolf(son) is a gorgeous, no-nonsense, New Yorker with legs, shoes, and sales record to die for).

 This is what happened in brief bullet-point fashion:
  • The day before the pitch, I attended an agent  panel discussion, in which Miss Wolf said, "Agents are people too. Come talk to us. We won't bite your head off."
  • The night before the pitch, a few friends invited me to sit with them at dinner, at the same table as Miss Wolf. I was thrilled.
  • I asked her a question this question: "What are you excited about right now?" (meaning: did she have any clients writing exciting things right now)
  • This is what she thought I asked: "What is hot right now?" (meaning what should I write that would make it easier for you to sell my book right now?)
  • The rest of the dinner is a blur because I was too embarrassed by her pointing out to the table what a ridiculous question I dared ask--writing to trends is a terrible idea.
  • I didn't particularly love being publicly humiliated so I decided to ask the conference if I could pitch to someone else.
  • I did in fact pitch to someone else, it went great, and I got a full manuscript request.
  • Miss Wolf found out about me cancelling my pitch with her, found me in the hall, and yelled at me again. She called me ridiculous...again. And demanded that I send her my full manuscript.
  • Again, not loving the public humiliation, I nodded my head that I would send it, but had no intention of doing so.
  • A few days later, she blogs about me by name : "The Sad Tale Of Jessie"
  • Third time is a charm in terms of public humiliation, and this time hundreds (if not thousands) of people witnessed it with dozens of commenters joining in the public ridicule, calling me stupid, and crazy, and whatnot. However, plenty of awesome people came to my defense as well. I appreciated that.
  • Miss Wolf blogged about me again a few days later, and it turned into one of those viral things, where rubberneckers couldn't look away. More blogs posts, tweets, and online mentions abounded. There came a point where I stood up for myself, and so did Miss Wolf.
  • Somewhere in the process, Miss Wolf became one of my biggest advocates. I didn't end up signing with her, but we've kept in touch. And wanna know what the coolest part about the whole thing is: MY BOOK IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED TWO YEARS TO THE DAY OF THAT MISSED PITCH SESSION! (and she's the one who pointed this out to me when I announced the date)
The moral to this story is: even if your worst nightmare comes true when you decide to gird your loins and pitch to a literary agent (and the wolf tries to rip out your loins), some really awesome things can happen too. Don't be afraid of failure, public humiliation, or mass ridicule. Don't stop dreaming Big. Don't miss an opportunity to be a big, fat B-Word: BRAVE.

Jessie With A Shot At The Night


  1. Funny this reminds me of a girl who used to bully me. It wasn't like super bad track me down bullying, but she did tease me (some might say taunt) quite a bit. In the end she surprised me one day by coming up and apologized to my face. We never became close but that memory stays with me. People do change and I'm glad Miss Wolf became a supporter. At first I wanted to find her blog and...argh! But now that you guys are friends I'm just happy for all your success Jessie.

  2. I'm so proud of you and more than a little awed. I would have cried. When I get really embarrassed, it's all showers.

  3. I remember you sharing a bit about this. Glad you and she worked it out. And yes, agents are just people and we need to stick up for ourselves when they misinterpret what we mean. And we have a right not to submit to them just like they have a right to say no. She blew this out of proportion.

  4. I remember this! That's awesome how the dates worked out. :)

  5. I remember this too, and I remember thinking: a) I would die b) this would totally happen to me. You're so brave to move on from something like that - and look how much it's paid off! Glad Miss Wolf ended up being an ally in the end :)

  6. I had no idea this happened. I'm so glad that in the end, she was able to understand you and what you meant to say. Geez--how totally stressful though!

  7. Wow! To the DAY?! That's incredible!

  8. That is pretty amazing that it's to the day! I only heard about this after the fact, but I'm still awed by it. I guess we're all human, and it honestly makes me very happy to hear how it ended happily. :)