Pitching with Confidence – Part Two

Continuation of Pitching with Confidence – Marvin Baker’s Story

Be Yourself. It’s a corny phrase, “Be Yourself.” But it works.

“We would sit down and just start chatting. I’d be myself. I’d talk to them like I’d talk to my friend. And the wandering eyes disappeared. They were totally engaged. I mean, I would get four to five minutes into a ten-minute pitch and they’d stop and say, wait, tell me about the book! We’re gonna run out of time. Tell me about what you’re working on. I want to know!

“At my last conference, I actually went five for four. I sold all four of my pitches, just by being myself and talking about my work. All four wanted my bio and the whole manuscript.”

Wait, five for four? How does that math work?

Eyes Up

It worked because Marvin pitched inside the pitch room, but he also talked about his work outside those ten-minute time periods. He talked to other authors. He talked to agents. He talked to me. He didn’t hide behind a book, or wait for his time slot. He shared his work every chance he got.

“And then,” he said, “I pitched a film producer in the lobby of the hotel during one of the breaks in the conference. Just someone I ran into. It was great. The interesting thing is as I was standing there pitching that producer, I was looking at all these other writers banging on their laptops. And I know what they were thinking: if I can just get more of this done – if they can see me working. If I can make these last few lines of my elevator pitch a little stronger.” Marvin sighed. “I’ve been there. I know. But stressing yourself out when you’re under that pressure, and in that kind of circumstance, it’s not just not going to work.”

So what does work?

Doing your research and getting ready, but then shutting your laptop, putting away your phone, and looking up. Sitting down for coffee, or sitting down for your pitch, and being yourself. That’s what sells. That’s what the agents want to see.

And that’s what got Marvin representation at the Willamette Writers Conference. Marvin’s new manager was one of Marvin’s five for four at the Conference.

“I pitched him in 2014. I talked to him about the novel I was working on. He kept asking for more. He eventually decided not to represent me. I was pretty torn up. But then, a year later, he called me on the phone and said, ‘That novel you sent me came up in conversation…angels and demons are on their way in…do you know what a spec script is?’”

The manager wanted Marvin to rewrite his novel into a screenplay. Marvin immediately said yes.

“The thing is,” Marvin said, “he believed in me enough, that a year later, he came back.”

And there’s a good reason for that: Marvin is confident in his work, and he works hard to get the job done. He keeps going back to his desk after each rejection, and now – he’s taking meetings down in Hollywood.

You’ll find out more about that later. For now, do your research, pick your professional, prepare your work, and go in with confidence. Keep your head up, and focus on telling your own story. It will take some work, but it will lead you to success.

By Kate Ristau