Without Virtual Practice PitchFest, I would not be a published author. Plain and simple.
Without Virtual Practice PitchFest, I would not be a published author
Without Virtual Practice PitchFest, I would not be a published author. Plain and simple. In fact, I likely would have fumbled the opportunities that PitchFest offered me.
My background is show business, acting, writing, and directing in LA, and I’d had some success writing (and pitching) screenplays, but I’d always wanted to write novels. Thanks to my career, I’d learned early on that when they say “five minutes,” they really mean three, because those five minutes include the questions a buyer might ask if interested in your work.
As any working actor, you develop work in different areas. One that had blossomed for me was narrating audiobooks. My lane became thrillers, which was fine with me because I love them. Having recorded several books by the likes of Don Winslow, Blake Crouch, and Alex Finlay, I finally worked up the nerve to try my hand at my own novel. Once I had a draft, I reached out to the writers I’d narrated who had inspired me. Nearly all responded right away (thriller writers really are a supportive species), and it was Alex Finlay who put me on this road.
He advised me that, if I was serious about writing, I had to go to the conferences, and that ThrillerFest was the big dog. I started researching and learned about PitchFest. I decided to go all-in (no school like old school) and started prepping. (Pro tip: Due diligence! It doesn’t serve anyone, including you, to pitch what they don’t sell. Read agent website bios.)
I had two Virtual Practice PitchFest sessions with different authors: Jeffrey Wilson and Elena Hartwell. The first was Jeff, who patiently listened to my feeble attempt at telling my story. He advised me on what to keep, what to cut, to keep it short, and how to do that. To make the logline a mashup approach, and to keep it all tight so they have time to ask questions if they get excited. He also tipped me to what some of those questions might be. I worked on that for about a week, then I pitched Elena.
She got me down to My name, My title, Why I wrote it, Here’s the story, and Here’s my background. Then I practiced that, over and over. Remember, I’m an actor so I know the importance of rehearsal, and I can’t stress that enough: Know what you’re going to say before you pitch. I got mine down to a minute forty-five. Plenty of time for questions, if they came. I pitched twelve agents, and had twelve requests. I received two offers and signed with the wonderful Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency. Now, Crooked Lane Books is my publisher, and they’ve been nothing but terrific.
In short, I believe that without PitchFest, and specifically Practice PitchFest, I would still be making cold email submissions, desperately hoping for any response, at all.
Jon is a 4-time Emmy© Award nominee. His debut novel, Hollywood Hustle, will be released in February 2024.