Dragons Pen – 19th November 2014

Dragons 19 11 14 02-1With an authoritative bang of his gavel Michael began the Ayr Writers’ session of 3 minute pitches to publishers. The participants bravely stepped up to the podium one by one; a potent mixture of steely nerves and confidence. The Dragons were chaired by the redoubtable Michael Malone, ably supported by Ann Burnett and Pat Young. Fortunately, these be nice Dragons so they damped their fire a little and gave friendly encouragement to all before adding their perceptive criticisms; constructive, of course.

Space is precious, so I’ll only make a quick mention of the Winner, and the Commended. Very well done, Kirsty, being commended for ‘The Winter Fairy’, a feel-good book for children. Ann was impressed with her ‘very vivid imagination’, and the winner – Dorothy’s ‘One Million Chances’, had a ‘brilliant opening.’

As for rest of the Dragons’ comments, I think we can all learn from these, not just in pitching our own work, but also as an aid to self-criticism:

Title is important.

Set the scene straight away. Be clear what kind of book it is, especially the genre -don’t jump around genres.

Pace the pitch – don’t rush, slow it down, and make full use of the time available. Speak slowly and clearly.

Establish a presence in the pitch and draw people in immediately. The setting’s time and place matters.

For childrens’ books, it’s important to focus on an age group, as Ann pointed out – and she should know!

Comparisons with existing ‘successful’ novels are good.

Do your research thoroughly, especially for mythical and other subjects.

If the writing is set against a background of current interest, bring this out – as in Wilma’s ‘A Royal Observer’, Ann thought that ‘would be a cracker’.

Practice! practice!, practice! Makes pitch perfect – excuse the pun.

And do not be disparaging about your own work.

Above all, as emphasised, repeatedly, by Michael, ‘Don’t pitch unless the work is finished, because, ‘if a publisher likes it, they’ll want it now!!!’

In conclusion, ‘lots to enjoy in all those pitches’, a great evening for audience and participants alike. Well done those brave souls. And no more puns on pitchers, I promise, even though they’re very punable, as be dragons!!!

Tim D


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