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What Coldplay Taught Me About Pitching

by Melissa Tagg

Anybody who knows me knows I love Coldplay. Like, soooo much. I’m convinced there’s a Coldplay song fitting for every occasion in life. And one of my great dreams is for someone to someday sing Coldplay’s “Green Eyes” to me. Except I actually have blue eyes, so it’d be kind of weird.

But still.

I love Coldplay.

A few years ago, I caught an interview with the band members in which front man Chris Martin said something that’s stuck with me ever since.

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically and people will like it more.”

Okay, so it sounds a little trite, but I actually think it’s pretty good advice. And it’s what came to mind recently when I was talking to a friend about her plans to pitch her book to agents and editors at the upcoming ACFW Conference.

I realized-as we chatted about pitch sheets and business cards, proposals and taglines-that as important as all that stuff is, we also need a good dose of enthusiasm when we pitch our stories. After all, we want agents and editors to get excited about our story, right?

But how do get enthusiastic when, often, just as we walk into our fifteen-minute pitch appointments, nerves and anxiety and the tension of our dreams and hopes all combine for that anvil-dropping-out-of-the-sky-act effect.

Prayer is a good starting point. Along with a good jolt of confidence.

But also, I think the kind of enthusiasm that’s contagious to agents and editors starts with you as the author digging past all the prep work and memorized premises and pressure to find the spark that first inspired the storyteller in you.

• Remember back to that first moment when the story started gelling in your imagination.

• Recall what prompted you to tell this story with these characters at this time.

• Remind yourself no one knows your story better than you. No one is more connected to your characters than you are.

And then carry that spark of enthusiasm into your pitching appointment. No, enthusiasm doesn’t make up for a poorly written story-so I’m not advocating faking it.

But I am advocating a step back from the pressure and a step toward the passion that turned you into a storyteller in the first place.

Melissa Tagg6
Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September. In addition to her homeless ministry dayjob, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My BookTherapy. Melissa loves connecting at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg).

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7 Responses to What Coldplay Taught Me About Pitching

  1. Beth K. Vogt says:

    … do it enthusiastically, and people will like it more.”

    Brilliant!

  2. Jaime Wright says:

    AMEN!! Such a great way to look at it. I think sometimes our original passion drowns in the striving to be perfect or professional or make an impression. Love the post!

  3. Susie May says:

    Love this idea!! I love asking people: what sparked this story idea! Then you really find the heart of the story. :) Great pitching advice, M-Tagg!!

  4. Melissa Tagg says:

    @Beth–that’s what I thought when I caught the interview. But then, I tend to think most of what Coldplay does is brilliant. :)

    @Jaime–you’re so right! The professional side of this writing dream is so important. There are things we need to do and ways we need to do them. But it’s vital that we also hold on to that passion that spurred us into this in the first place. I think sometimes it’s just a matter of taking the time to purposely remember what sparked the storyteller in us. :)

    @Susie–I’m pretty sure you’ve asked me what sparked a particular story idea multiple times when I was wading in deep “I don’t even know what’s going on in this story anymore!” waters. :) You always help me get back to the core of what and why I’m writing! :)

  5. Loved this Melissa! Such great advice?from Chris Martin?and you. :) I need to take these questions and think on them. :)

  6. Melissa Tagg says:

    Thanks Jeanne! Chris Martin probably had nooo idea writers would one day be encouraged by his words. Haha!

  7. I completely agree. I attended a conference this summer where a first-time writer pitched an incomplete manuscript to an agent— and got a card and instructions to contact once the manuscript was finished. This writer had an infectious personality and listening to her practice her pitch showed her enthusiasm for her novel-in-progress.