Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Learnin' to Pitch!

Well, it's been a long time since I've tried to pitch a product to anyone. In fact, I don't think I've actually ever done so! Not even with my first book project. Lisa Bergren, then editor at Multnomah, called and asked me to consider writing for their Palisades romance line, and that was the beginning of my writing career. So when it came time this morning to practice our pitches to the producers, I realized I was on new ground.

I mean, COMPLETELY new ground.

You know something? It was a blast. It helps that I'm here with authors who are good friends: Gayle Roper, Terri Blackstock, DiAnn Mills, Sharon Ewell Foster, Yvonne Lehman and others. So that gives each of us a built-in cheering squad. And the gal who taught us how to pitch--Kathy Mackal--was wonderful. She had such a gift for honing in on the perfect hook for our projects.

I'd been planning to start my pitch with the first book in my suspense series, Shattered Justice, but when I told her about my novel The Breaking Point, which is about a couple on the brink of divorce whose truck goes over the edge of an Oregon mountain in a blizzard, her eyes lit up and she insisted I start with that one.

Turns out she was right on the money. Don't you love it when God gives you good counselors?

First, let me describe what we found when we walked into the room where we were to pitch. We'd been warned it was going to be a bit like speed dating. We'd get roughly 3 minutes with each producer. Three minutes TOTAL. Good thing I can talk fast. If they wanted to know more, they'd ask for materials (plus we were all eating dinner together after the pitch session, which was nice). So in we troop to find table after table set upl, the producers sitting and waiting--15 in all--with little numbered cones on the corner of each table. The plan was to have everyone choose one producer, sit down, do the pitch, then move on to the "next number up." So I sat down at table number 5, which meant I'd move on to #6, and so on until we all made it through all the tables.

Well! Someone should have told our poor organizers that getting novelists to follow directions was like herding cats. I want you all to know I was obedient. I went from my table to the next, and the next, and so on. But I kept running into people who were doing more of a pinball pattern. And then there were those who started out right, but went to the next number down. It got to be pretty funny after awhile. Fortunately, everyone was laid back and relaxed, so we ended up just having fun.

I was especially pleased to get to talk with Ken Wales, the producer for Amazing Grace, the wonderful movie about William Wilberforce and the originator of the TV show Christy. Ken was gracious and kind. He liked the sound of two of my books, Reunion and The Breaking Point, and asked me to send him copies of both. As nice as that was, just being able to sit and talk with him was even nicer. I told him as soon as I sat down that one of my good friends absolutely loved Amazing Grace (Lori Benton, to be exact). So much so that she'd seen it multiple times. He was delighted and said to tell her thanks. (So hey, Lori...Thanks!) He's showing Amazing Grace tomorrow night (we have movie premieres and showings every night), after he gives a brief talk about it, then sticking around for questions. I'm looking forward to it.

A number of producers were interested enough to ask me to send them books. And Ted Baehr, of MovieGuide.com fame, gave me an A+ on my pitch for The Breaking Point. Too fun!

So here I sit in my room, all the images and conversations from today floating through my mind, reminded yet again that God is in control. Don't know if any of this will go anywhere, but even if it doesn't, it's been a wonderful education. And such fun to get to thank folks who are making things happen in the world of film and TV.

I'm here for two more days, and will check in as I can. Hope you're all doing well!



Nicole said...

Okay, Karen, you know I loved The Breaking Point so much. So . . . any thoughts of who you'd like to play the leads?

Lori Benton said...

Awesome, Karen! Thank you so much for thanking Ken Wales for me. That's brilliant. I saw Amazing Grace in theater 10 times.

Sounds like good news on the pitch front. Did you pitch Shattered Justice at all, then?

Looking forward to seeing you home, girl. *s*

Sandy Cathcart said...

Wow! That is really cool. I hope you share some of the pitching tips you learned. I could sure use the help.

Would have totally loved to have been there with you (invisible of course!) listening in when you were talking with Ken Wales. Lori got me hooked on Amazing Grace.

I love your blog!

Wild Woman, sandy c

Rel said...

Great news, Karen - here's hoping (and praying!)