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Apr 14·edited Apr 14Liked by Ben Wakeman

When her young brother dies after committing a school mass shooting, a brilliant scientist risks everything to bring him back as an AI consciousness and give him a chance at redemption.

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I love it. See, you would have done a much better job of it and English is not even your first language. I've spent a few days trying to whittle it down to one compelling sentence. It is a ruthless exercise to get to the few strokes required to make the novel come into view for a stranger.

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I have a masters in screenwriting from a British university. 😅

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That makes total sense, Claudia. I have a music degree from a largely unknown American University. From now on, I will enlist your services for all my log lines and pitches. ;-)

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🤣 I’ll start reading Harmony House. It’s a challenge! Write a pitch winning logline!

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I’ll keep that in mind for your birthday Kim. 😁

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I'm retired from contacting and only write as a hobby (until somebody pays me!)

But I know about pitching. I pitched jobs for decades. Yes,there's technique to it. Take to heart that your buyer is buyer of what he is buying, not what you are selling. Make sure you know what that is, and then pitch from his perspective, not yours. Better to acknowledge that what you are pitching isn't what he wants, and thank him for his time. Then you might be able to casually ask if he knows someone who would be interested in your work. You might also be able to say something like, "I can see that what I've got here doesn't meet your needs, but I've been working on an idea that does. Could I send you an outline?" Give him some wiggle room that allows building a relationship without full-on commitment. Don't let the meeting be all or nothing.

A car salesman doesn't project that he is selling a car. He projects that he is helping you choose one.

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Great advice, Chip! This is helpful. I'm sure others will think so too. Ironically, I do not how to pitch adequately when it comes to my day job. It's only when I'm pitching my art that I turn into a baffoon-- well, let's be honest, more of a baffoon.

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This is really great advice, thanks for sharing!

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Apr 15Liked by Ben Wakeman

This is so funny, and so honest, and so generous. I have an allergic reaction to simply reading the word pitch, so I think actually pitching could literally be the end of me, but a series where you get into it would be really helpful nonetheless, for a lot of people.

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I've had the same allergic reaction my whole life. I'm trying to get over it now in hopes of maybe being able to sell my work.

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Ben!! As a fellow longtime foot shooter, I read this with great empathy. There are more times than I like to think about that I turned an opportunity to promote my work into a chance to put myself down. I’ve thought about this a lot in the past couple of years, and I think I learned somewhere along the way that this type of “ humility” was of some sort of value or honor. In the same vein, I think I went through the world for a long time with this leave-no-trace ethos— as if is the best I could do for others was to make no impact on them.

It is with great gratitude that I can report this is evolving for me rapidly. I hope to pitch a manuscript I’m working on soon. So, your advice is also timely. Thank you.

To commiserate, here’s one regret I’ve held onto. I, too, will withhold names. I was in New York when I ran into a writer / writing teacher who I’d known during my final year of undergrad. He was already prolific. He had seen and praised my writing. but I didn’t receive it well, thinking self-deprecation was the way to go. Anywho, he was the writer in residence at this cool hotel. We ended up getting a drink after one of his readings and were joined by another writer friend of his, who had just published a new book. This other writer gave me a copy of his book at my friend’s suggestion that I would be a great person to review it. He was the editor for a quarterly I would have loved to be published in, and it was clearly an open invitation to publish there. I basically never worked up the confidence to finish this review and submit and was very embarrassed about that for a long time.

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I feel you. I've carried the same baggage for a long time, not wanting to take up too much space or ask too much of people. The stark truth is that, if you don't learn how to ask, it doesn't matter how good you are, someone else will get the break.

Thanks for sharing your story. What a bummer, but I can totally see what held you back. I'm glad you're making big, audacious plans to pitch your manuscript.

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Thanks, Ben. And P.S., I would love to hear iterations of your pitches. Your work is fantastic. Make your pitch half as good, and I can imagine you hitting the next one out of the ballpark. :)

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I cried laughing so hard reading this. And not for your misfortune, but all of ours, for every artist who has tried to sell themselves, it’s a hard road.

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Thanks, Joshua!

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Oh, man. I feel you. I have this self-sabotaging thing where whenever there's an opportunity that might actually be something, I end up getting to it so late that I miss it. And this is from me, who is always early in any other circumstance. I overthink the pitch or the application too much and the deadline closes/conversation finishes/person walks out of the room/email was sent so long ago that it now feels weird to reply to it without an excuse like having been in a coma. I'm working on it.

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It’s tough, right? So hard to get out of your own way and remember that even though you wrote it, it’s not about you when you’re trying to pitch someone else. As Chip said so well in his comment, it’s about them and what they want to buy.

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Love this! Loglines are indeed a special craft and so far the comments have been illuminating for me, especially the one from Chip about the mindset. Claudia’s logline is terrific. It def makes me want to read it. In my writing workshops, I’m known as the one who can write a good logline. The secret is, it’s SO MUCH EASIER to do it for other people. Maybe you could start a series where we practice with each other. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Also - Colin Hay is a marvelous human and talented singer-songwriter. One of my faves. So cool that you got to interview him.

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Colin was a fun interview. If I had kept that podcast going, I could have created an empire by now!

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Embarrassing/humiliating pitching moments: I don’t have enough of these to count, but I do have key moments where I just clammed up and let opportunity walk by. At least you were in there fighting the battle.

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Apr 18Liked by Ben Wakeman

PLEASE do your series on pitching, I think it would be immensely helpful. Love what Chip said about thinking of it as starting a relationship with someone rather than pitching something they're not buying to begin with... But also, I've gotta wonder about people who agree to meet an aspiring artist, and then sort of just sit there with a "Wow me" kind of attitude. Maybe the "gatekeepers" could cut the "what's the password?" crap and imagine meeting us where we are? Just thinking out loud. ;)

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Thanks, Troy. I will see about at least doing a post that shows the progression of my thinking about pitching with some real examples. I did try to do this in notes the past few days but got absolute crickets. I'm still unsure what the ultimate value is of Notes. I can never seem to get any traction for my work there. As to the other bit about the gatekeepers meeting us halfway, that's a nice dream, but given the overwhelming amount of supply and the near invisible demand, I'm not optimistic. I think there are good people who truly love the writing and want to champion it, but there's just too much to give anyone unsolicited more than a passing glance.

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Apr 18Liked by Ben Wakeman

I've given up on Notes for the most part, mainly just restack to show my appreciation for people. As for "nice dream" well, it all always has been just that, good thing we love the writing, huh? ;)

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Apr 16Liked by Ben Wakeman

Same in the film industry. Elevator pitches, log lines, crack delivered in three concise sentences… it’s everything and yet so hard to commit time to doing. Thanks for the gutted reminder.

And just saying, I would never refuse a hand-knit copy from the wool of virgin lambs.

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This is good -- I will share it with my writing students-- thanks and good luck!

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Apr 15Liked by Ben Wakeman

Ben, this was a brilliant read. I know that this evidently all stung, but man did you write it all with wit and quips and flair.

"I had a paper cup because I hate the environment." 🤣🤣

In all seriousness, there's a lot of value in this post and I really like your bullet points at the end. I know nothing of pitching.

Have you thrown your stories into ChatGPT to ask them to come up with loglines, short pitches, perhaps aimed at different potential audiences? This could be a useful exercise, perhaps. I'd love to read your process of iteration.

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Thanks Nathan. I hope it’s useful. The guy from the second story actually provided some resources that I’ve found helpful. I have experimented a bit with AI as a sounding board. It knows all the things to do but everything it generates is just off the mark. How it’s been most useful is in helping me be more objective and less personal about the exercise.

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That's useful to know, thanks for sharing.

Keep us in the loop, would love to hear how this all goes, and I hope the cafe guy keeps you in mind and it leads to something fruitful at some point. You deserve it.

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