Your pitch is important, too!

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Last weekend I was at Connooga with a bunch of awesome people, including fellow Magical Words-er James R. Tuck (who has a new book out this week, so go check that out!), and sat on a bunch of panels. If you’ve never attended a con panel, then shame on you, you’ve missed our collective live brilliance! But more to the point, the first thing we all do is introduce ourselves to the audience. 

My introduction goes something like this – “Blah, blah John Hartness blahblah Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books blahblah Bubba the Monster Hunter blahblah Magical Words group writing blog blahblah Big Bad Anthology Dark Oak Press.

After about three panels in a year it starts to roll off the tongue well. Misty can vouch for how clumsy my intros were at Illogicon, the first show of the year. But by now, after three cons in three months, I’m getting back into shape. But that’s not the point. The point is figuring out how to identify yourself at cons and other public appearances. 

When you’re in front of a group of people, you want your introduction to be short and memorable. Hit the high points, leave the details for later. If the audience is interested, they’ll come find you. But you want to make sure your intro is memorable because there are some panels where that’s the only chance you’ll ever get to speak, depending on who you’re sharing a table with. I try to make sure to plug Bubba at every panel, because the character name is funny, and people remember the funny stuff. I’m also often the biggest and loudest guy at the table, so that helps me get remembered too, but you can’t count on that. 

You only get about a minute or two at the most to do your intro, so practice it. It’s just like your elevator pitch, only for you instead of your book. If your intro drags on too long, you can see the audience begin to drift away from you. If your intro is too short, without any funny bits, they probably won’t be able to tell you from the other panelists. So try to strike a nice balance, maybe three sentences. And keep it clean, unless it’s an after-hours panel. 🙂 

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4 comments to Your pitch is important, too!

  • Years ago, I was moderating a panel at World Fantasy, about violence in fantasy. Joe Haldeman was on the panel, and he introduced himself, his most recent work, and he said, “I’m on this panel because I’m the only one here who has actually killed a man.” (He’s a military veteran.) I ***so*** wish I had responded with, “Actually, Joe, that’s not true.” (I’ve never killed anyone, but I bet I would have killed that crowd with my laugh line. Ba-dum-bum.) Thanks for the reminder on pitches!

  • I once was on a panel with Lois McMaster Bujold, who was GoH at the con, and I was sitting beside her. We began the panel with the normal intros and worked down the table in such a way that I got to go right before Lois. And so I started my self-into by saying. “Hi, my name is Lois McMaster Bujold . . .” After that, it didn’t matter what I said — everyone remembered me. Sometimes being funny is way more important than being erudite.

  • John may have been a little rusty at Illogicon, but at Mysticon he had to remind me once to mention MW, so I think we’re even.

    I’m a big fan of the quick and clean intro. It’s tempting to mention every single thing you’ve ever done/written/been awarded, but it’s good to leave a few things out for your readers to discover on their own later. I always say my name, my book’s title and my MW status.

    Well, almost always. 😀

  • Late to the party, John. SORRY! Yeah, I love humor in an intro, but for us not-funny-writers, I go with your advice, KISS. (Keep it Short, Stupid.)