Monday, February 3, 2020

Writing Conferences and Story Pitches

by Ralene Burke @RaleneB

With Realm Makers registration having opened on February 1, I have had writers conferences on my mind a lot lately. As Marketing Director for Realm Makers, I have to know the ins and outs of the conference in order to highlight the important aspects in our marketing efforts as well as answer any questions that may come through social media (or at least be able to find the answer). 

One thing writers always want to know about is WHO is attending the conference (agents, publishers, mentors, etc.). And then they want to know what each one wants to hear/have at their pitch appointments. 

Note: While requirements may differ from individual to individual, if you have a few things handy for all your pitch sessions, you’ll likely have what they want. I’ve always brought: 
  • one sheet
  • proposal
  • first 3 chapters
  • business card 

I don’t outright give these to everyone I pitch to, but, if they ask for them, I at least have them on hand!

Another Side Note: Did you know that one sheets are not widely used outside of the Christian publishing market? If you go to a general market conference, hardly anyone knows what a one sheet is!

For many newbies, once they know who is coming, they always follow with an internal, “But how do I pitch my story?”

Pitching is just the way writers get to tell someone about their stories. And there are great posts around the web about how to build a good pitch. Especially the “30-second Pitch.” (Google “pitching for fiction writers.”)

However, I want to share about something I’ve learned over the years. Are you ready?

Are you sure?


While plot points are important and good to highlight, it’s the emotional or interpersonal conflict that drags people into the story. 

A lot of times, when we’re pitching, we just want to rattle off the plot, point-by-point. We’re nervous, and plot points are an easy guide to getting the story out. 

You know how they say there is nothing new under the sun?

The same goes for most plots. What draws readers (and potential agents/editors) in is the unique people and their unique issues that get placed into those plots. Do you know how many re-imaginings of Romeo and Juliet there are? How about Cinderella? Yeah. Point made.

Recently, I read Brand of Lighta sci-fi novel by Ronie Kendig. Now, I’m not a big fan of reading sci-fi. Never have been. However, when the book was “pitched” to me, I found the story was more of a space opera (think Star Wars), rather than sci-fi. Space opera is much more character-focused (still with great plots). People described their favorite characters, not their favorite twists.

And when I read it, I found the story had both! I gobbled the novel in just a few days. Might have been a single day if I weren’t so busy lately. 

So, if you’re planning to pitch at a conference this year, or if you plan to write up a proposal, don’t forget to play up the inner struggles and interpersonal relationships in the story. After all, without the people, what point would a plot have?

Do you find you are more of a plot-driven or character-driven writer?

Also, if you’re a speculative fiction writer, you should check out Realm Makers! Thomas Locke (spec pseudonym for Davis Bunn) is our keynote speaker this year. And we’re also excited to have other fiction greats like Steven James, N.D. Wilson, an C.J. Redwine. #RealmMakers2020 will be held in Atlantic City, July 16-18!

Writing Conferences and Story Pitches - tips from @RaleneB on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone #SHINE Beyond their circumstances! Her novels, Bellanok and Armor of Aletheia, are available on Amazon. More fantasy novels coming soon!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all-around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . . You can also find her on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or at her website.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the tips. I will be attending several conferences in the next few months. :-)