This week I have my first literary agent pitch meetings. I directly worked with a publisher for my first book so this is the first time I’m meeting agents and pitching myself and my writing to them.
I wanted some advice on this process and came across the Netflix series Shine On hosted by Reese Witherspoon. In one episode, Reese interviews Ava DuVernay and they talk about this exact kind of high-stakes personal pitch scenario in creative fields.
“They want to hear you be the one [they’re looking for]. They don’t want to hear that you’re nervous. They want someone who’s smart, and capable, and passionate, and going to try. And those are all the things you already have.”
What does Reese Witherspoon think when she auditions? “I think in my mind, “Give me the ball.” Because people just want to know you’re going to handle it.”
Their bottom line is that even if you don’t know what you’re doing, be committed to figuring it out.
So today as I prepare my materials and refine my pitch, I’m holding this advice in my mind and heart. I’ve already got what I need. Now it’s just a matter of walking into the room like I already belong and letting myself shine.
As many of you know, I’ve been working on my science writing and bringing since into my career as a product developer. I’m so excited to share that over the next few months, one of my favorite biomimicry publications is going to publish a series of pieces I’ve been wanting to write. I’m over the moon excited about this, and as a source of inspiration, I wanted to share how it all came about.
Twitter magic and the glass sponge
I’m pretty active on Twitter where my feed is mashup of different topics, two main ones being my writing and my work in biomimicry. A couple of weeks ago, I learned about the glass sponge for a grad school assignment.
Very quick recap: the glass sponge lives on the ocean floor over 1000 meters below sea level and is one of the oldest species in existence today. It builds one of the the most stable structures on Earth with the minimal amount of material needed. Its glass is transparent, flexible, and created from sea minerals (such as calcium carbonate, salt, and carbon dioxide) at ocean temperatures (~4 degrees Celsius, ~39 degrees Fahrenheit). It is created and then biodegrades without any toxic waste. Human-made glass is extremely fragile, expensive, and dirty to create—glass and cement production generates 5-7% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions. It requires very hot temperatures in a kiln and therefore is also energy intensive.
Though we’ve known about the glass sponge for decades, engineers, designers, and scientists have no idea how it creates its glass and we’ve never been able to replicate its far superior product. It’s an absolute mystery. But when we learn its secrets, it has the potential to transform our construction industry into one that’s sustainable, clean, and healthy for the planet.
Power to the crowd
So…back to my writing. I wrote a tweet about the magnificent glass sponge just as part of my regular social media promotion of science and biomimicry. It got a lot of attention and became the 2nd most shared story about biomimicry on Twitter the week I posted it, second only to one my Mashable. That got the attention of this publication, and they asked me if I’d like to write something for them. And heck yes, I would!
What I’ll be writing
They asked me to pitch a topic to them. True to my brand, I gave them 10 pitches hoping there might be one in there that they’d like. To my surprise, they loved them all and asked me to write one a month. So, we’re off the races and here are the first few topics that will be coming out in the next few months:
1. Biomimicry and the Green New Deal (November)
2. Biomimicry and materials science (December)
3. Biomimicry makes the case for species conservation (January)
4. Medical applications of biomimicry (February)
I tell this story because I want it to inspire you to get out there and shout about what you love, what fascinates you, not because you hope it gets you something but just because you love it so much that you can’t keep it to yourself. I’m thrilled by this development in my writing. Shocked even. And even if no one liked the glass sponge tweet, it wouldn’t have mattered because I love it and wanted to share it.
The big publishing take-away
That’s the bit no one ever told me about publishing. In the age when people are obsessed with platform and followers and likes and retweets, too many of us have forgotten about joy. That’s the thing to focus on. That’s the secret sauce that keeps us going. Fill up your head, heart, hands, and feeds with joy, and see what happens. It’s a skeleton key that unlocks doors we didn’t even know were there.
I got some unfortunate news on Friday night: my publisher for my novel is going out of business on September 30th. As of October 1st all the publishing rights for Emerson revert to me. Because the book has been reviewed well, received several awards, and is still up for a few more awards, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find a new home for her story that will include the existing novel and the sequel. If you’ve been through this type of situation or know someone who has, I’d love your advice on approaching this process and taking next steps, I’d love to hear it. Thanks, all!
I’m doing a #YAAuthorTakeover on Thursday for Young Entertainment Mag ‘s Twitter account @YoungEntMag. I’ll be talking about my book, writing / publishing, turning a book into a film, etc. What questions would you want me to answer?
Yesterday was a wonderful day! My publisher and I set a launch date for my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. On November 1, 2017, Emerson’s story will be released to the world exactly three years after I started writing the first draft as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Thumbkin Prints, an imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co., and I are planning fun giveaways, exclusive content, and fun events as pub day approaches. To stay in-the-know, take a second to sign up for my email list at https://goo.gl/forms/GwZKMm8gR3zhFVGJ2. I promise no spam, only goodness!