Over this past few years, I've had the distinct pleasure of learning what it's like to face rejection and criticism as well as acceptance and praise for my work. To tell you the truth, I've learned more from the rejections and criticism!
I'm also learning what publishers and editors are looking for and what they won't put up with. In January we (the MFA students) were honored to stand in front of several editors and publishers and allowed to "pitch" our respective stories. Some of the comments that came out of this were very honest. They said:
1. You don't know your story well enough to explain it to us
2. That's been done to death
3. What genre is your book? (we'll discuss this later)
4. You sound too rehearsed, unnatural
6. Your pitch is way too long
7. I wouldn't know where to try and place this book
8. You don't seem very confident about the book, why should I be?
All of the comments were delightfully helpful, albeit a bit crushing for a new writer. But what I did learn was that this IS a business. They really do hope we have a good product, because they need good products. They want us to have a bestseller so we can all do well. But they don't want to get a book where the author will be absolutely no help to them in promoting it!
So, if I learned anything was that I have to:
1. Know my target audience
2. Be prepared, but not too rehearsed
3. Have a "log" line prepared that can be expanded upon as time allows
4. Know my story and then present it in a way that they want to know more as well.
These were good lessons I am grateful to have learned. So, back to the drawing board to study the way I can explain my story to others in a natural way that makes people want to read my book! Next time I'll be ready!