Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where Antonio Smith Learned to Flex and Bryan Frank's Take on Pitch Conferences


Arizona sports fans are celebrating the Cardinals’ first home playoff game in something like a hundred and sixty years. Since moving to Arizona twenty years ago, the Bidwell family has fielded one mediocre team after another. But this team appears to be the exception.

I have a bit of a personal connection with this extraordinary Cardinals football team. Antonio Smith, the team’s charismatic defensive end lives three doors down from yours truly. If you’re a football fan, you know that Mr. Smith flexes his biceps like Hulk Hogan after making big plays. It’s a little known fact that I, WZ Snyder, gave him this idea. It all began a couple of years ago on a hot September afternoon; my sweat soaked nephew had just finished the grueling eight and a half hour task of assembling a portable basketball hoop. Noticing Antonio Smith climb into his truck, I called for the ball. It was my intention to show this young professional athlete that the old timer had a little athletic prowess of his own. As he drove by, I threw down an earth shattering old school style dunk on the eight foot rim. When Mr. Smith nodded to me, I growled and flexed my biceps. The next night on Monday Night Football, Mr. Smith could be seen flexing and growling after a particularly devastating quarterback sack. You’re welcome Antonio. You’re welcome Cardinals fans. I do what I can.


In an effort to educate myself about the business of writing and publishing, I spent 5.99 on a copy of Writers Digest. I was intrigued by soon to be published novelist, Susan Breen’s article about pitch conferences. The deal is writers pay ($495. to $895.) for the opportunity to pitch their books to agents and editors. Breen points out that she landed her book deal at one of these conferences.

My gut tells me something is rotten in the state of pitch land. My gut tells me that anyone who asks me to pay them to sell my writing is taking me for a ride. My gut tells me if my writing is good enough, a legitimate agent will eventually take me on; if my writing isn’t good enough, I should keep working it, keep getting better.

Could shelling out a few hundred bucks for a pitch conference expedite the process? I posed this question to my writer friend, Bryan Frank. Frank said, “What you need to do is write your ass off. When you turn to look in the mirror and you have no ass, then you should shell out 800 bucks for a pitch conference.”