Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing

Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.

— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fear of Pitching

MY FIRST SCRIPT is waiting patiently for me to mother it.

Over time, this mothering will involve many things, but the major monster under the bed right now is learning to pitch.

I’m an introvert who would rather sit alone and write than have to sell my work verbally to jaded industry people who’ve heard it all before.

But mothers are people who will do anything and everything they can to give their children all the advantages in life. Right?

OK, so let’s rephrase that “I’m an introvert, blah, blah, blah” stuff to:

I *can* do this.

Today’s post will mention a few of the things I’m currently doing to overcome my fear of pitching.


After reading even one book on pitching, this would seem like a no-brainer . . . but apparently not.

In Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds,Michael Hauge interviews executives on pitching. Time and again, these executives bemoan writers who

(a) pitch with no focus
(b) ramble and take up too much time
(c) don’t know their story
(d) try to cram in too many details.

I saw this illustrated in dramatic terms when I watched the DVD How to Pitch and Sell Your Screenplay.

Pitch expert Laurie Scheer analyzed pitches given at the New York Pitch Exchange. Even without Laurie’s analysis, I could see many of the writers getting themselves into troubling by failing to know and rehearse their pitches ahead of time.
You must be “off-paper” when pitching. Meaning you have to memorize the pitch. That being said, I usually took cue cards with me as a safety net during the pitch. The pitch must be delivered like you’ve just thought of it, not like you’re repeating lines from a memorized pitch.

—Sharon Y. Cobb, screenwriter and author of False Confessions of a True Hollywood Screenwriter

If I spot an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone—enough to inspire rather than intimidate me—I try to jump on it.

For instance, yesterday I recorded an intro/outro for Guardians, a podcast novel by Twitter friend Kimi Alexandre. This was easy and fun to do. Kimi provided the short scripts; all I had to do was call her voice mail and do the recording.

I rehearsed ahead of time and did not stumble or sound nervous (even though I was a little nervous about the prospect of hearing my voice on someone else’s podcast).

Seems like such a small thing in retrospect, but it did boost my confidence!

Not only that, Kimi now wants to interview me for her blog ( So I’ll have another fun—albeit slightly nervous-making—baby step to continue the momentum.

A little bit of nerves = good. Adds extra energy to the mix!


I’ve been to two meetings here in my new city (Youngstown Executive Toastmasters) and will make my first speech, the “Icebreaker” in May.

The Oh, Pinon chapter of the Santa Fe Toastmasters helped me greatly back in 2001 when I wanted to become a writing workshop presenter.

An article on my Website, The Author in Public: Gaining Confidence, chronicles my adventures with the warm and wonderful people of the Oh, Pinon Club.

Yes, Toastmasters is another fabulous way of taking baby steps. Granted, giving a speech is more like stepping into the deep end. But the people of Toastmasters are so friendly and supportive—and their evaluations are so positive and helpful—that this is still one of the best ways to get comfortable speaking face to face.


Got fear of pitching? Or perhaps tips to help writers who want to become better pitchers? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas.


MILLI THORNTON is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She blogs about writing and creativity at


Sunflower Ranch said...

Milli!!! Excellent, informative & inspiring post!!! You've got good resources [listed books & DVD] and now an audience of fellows [Toastmasters] to perfect your pitch! I personally don't think you will have ANY trouble doing your pitch when the time comes. You obviously believe in your script, you love your work, you have creds -- it should be a slam dunk!! And you've got a whole bunch of us out here pitching for YOU! We know you'll make it!! So what that Hollywood is 1000s of miles away? Real life is not to be found in Hollywood. How can you write anything about real life in that distorted pressure cooker? The boonies are the best place to connect with your inner screenwriter. Now comes the marketing!! I would also suggest you keep having another project ready to go, at least with a log-line if your initial contact is positive but as much for your enthusiasm as for your product. And sometimes having a new project makes the older one easier to become objective about and gives you a chance to step back and really pick the most essentials to use in the pitch. Whew, sorry to be so long winded. Definitely not Twitter material. LOL Also congrats on the upcoming interview!!! That is soooooooo cool!!! Keep it up, kid, you'll be collecting your Oscar soon!!! :)

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