It’s been a little over a month since I returned from ThrillerFest and I can honestly say it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done in my life.

When I first thought about going to the event in New York City, I asked Rachael if she was going. When she said she was attending with Sophie Littlefield, I knew I had to go as well.

But as I looked into the event, I realized that the focus was much more on the traditional publishing industry and not so much on the independent publishing side. I’ve spoken to others who had attended ThrillerFest in the past, and they had the same experience.

In addition to attending the event, I’d decided to bring a manuscript that I would pitch to editors and agents who happen to be at PitchFest for this exact reason. These people sat in a room and for hours on end, listened to authors come in and pitch their books or book proposals in 2-to-3 minute increments.

Sophie and Rachael gave me great advice, and I was really excited about PitchFest and all of those opportunities that could be waiting for me.

But as the session grew closer, I realized that I was not like the other people in the room. Of course, we are all writers with most of us writing genre fiction, that’s not what I mean. I write mostly post-apocalyptic, dystopian, horror. The majority of the people at ThrillerFest were, as you might expect, thriller writers. Therefore, when it came time for me to enter PitchFest, I was faced with a decision.

I could pitch my project so that it sounded better as a thriller to agents and editors who were in attendance at ThrillerFest. After all, the whole reason the event exists is to celebrate the thriller. On the other hand, there weren’t many people, from what I could tell, who were trying to sell any other types of stories. I looked at what the agents were seeking and realized that many of them were hoping to acquire the dark types of stories that I tell, which didn’t necessarily have to be thrillers.

So I did what I typically do, which is what everyone else isn’t doing. Yes, my manuscript is technically a thriller, but throughout the pitch process, I realized it was not necessarily a traditional thriller. I couldn’t imagine a man with a gun on my cover or the word “girl” in the title of my book, and therefore, it was most likely not going to appeal to those editors and agents who were looking for a traditional thriller.

Did it work? I don’t know yet. I’m still in the process of waiting for editors and agents to get back to me after reading partial or full manuscripts that they had requested. It could be months or longer before I know if my gamble paid off. What I do know is that every agent and editor I spoke to asked to see more, so whatever was in my pitch must have been different enough to grab their attention.

I struggle with this scenario all the time. I know what the best practices are and what I should be doing, and despite all of the data and anecdotal evidence, I do something different.

I’ve often heard the advice to be like everybody else but different. I might be beginning to understand exactly what this means.

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