Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Minute Pitch @ the SWF

Pitching Emma's Elephant

A few days ago, Auntie Susanna and I were honoured to be invited to a one-minute pitch session at the Singapore Writers Festival, where we pitched our respective books A Night at the Opera and Emma's Elephant to a roomful of media producers and industry types. In other words, an assortment of very, very important people.

When we arrived, Kiru checked us in and Sihui brought us to our assigned tables, where we would schmooze with the producers and authors who were seated with us.

Richard, Adan, Felica, Edmund and Jason

Auntie Susanna was placed in the company of such literary heavyweights as Christine Suchen Lim, and agent Anna Davis from Curtis Brown; I was at the same table as Adan Jiminez and Felicia Low Jiminez aka AJ Low of the Sherlock Sam series, Author Nicholas Yong,  Curtis Brown's Jake Arnott,  Producer Koh Wee Lit, Monstrou Business Development Director Kenneth Goh, and Richard Thomas, Creative Director of One Animation. 

And wouldn't you know it, Sitting in Pictures producer Tan Chih Chong was sitting at the very  next table. I met Chih Chong around 12 years ago when he produced a documentary about my autograph collecting hobby. It was a fun experience. We ended up meeting David Copperfield on that project! I dare say it's one of the better documentaries I've seen on TV in years! :)

Jason Erik  Lundberg arrived shortly thereafter to pitch his book Red Dot Irreal. Boy, the competition was going to be tough.

Adan and Felicia pitching

As pitching time inched closer, my stomach began to twist in knots. We were reminded that we were only allowed a minute to pitch, and let's just say 99% of the authors kept their within the allotted time limit.

My pitch was sandwiched between Felicia and Adan's and Jason Erik Lundberg's. If there was ever a no-win situation for anyone, this was it. There was no way I could compete was those three.

Pitching Emma's Elephant

After Felicia and Adan's presentation it was my turn. I needed a valium, a xanax, an elephant tranquilizer, anything! I carried my Ella the Elephant puppet with me for comfort. It was quite an effort to get to the front of the room, as I had to wend my way around the chairs and the tables, almost tripping to get up to the presentation screen. and I read from my notes as I pitched Emma's Elephant and I finished within the time limit. With extra time to spare I wanted to say that I felt like I was answering the final question at a kind of literary pageant and that what I wanted the most in the world was world peace! I thought about it for a second and then I decided against it.  Then I thought about thanking NAC for all my future grants for a mili-second, but thought the better of it.  I concluded lamely by asking the producers to call me.  I am soooo hooo hooo pathetic, it's not funny.

Jason Erik Lundberg  was next and he did an awesome job. Not fair! Then it was time for one of the favourite presentations, if not The favourite presentation of the night, and I say this without an ounce of bias: Auntie Susanna's pitch for her book: A Night at the Opera.

Auntie Susanna pitching

Auntie Susanna started by singing a line from a Chinese Opera, sporting her late opera-star brother's opera boots as props. She the then delved briefly into her personal history with Chinese Opera, which inspired her story before bringing her pitch home by thanking the NAC.

Then it was time to eat and mingle, which we all did. I know at these events one is supposed to sell oneself and one's product; I don't believe one needs get pushy when it comes to promoting your product at these events. Networking nights essentially provide the opportunity for people in the similar industries to meet one another and if something comes out of it professionally speaking, great! But if not, you've made a bunch of good contacts. Overall, it was a fairly relaxed, chilled and enjoyable evening.

I managed to exchange cards - actually I forgot my cards so I had to use Auntie Susanna's- with producers Kenneth Goh and Richard Thomas before scarfing my dinner down and catching up with my publisher Edmund Wee of Epigram  to briefly discuss our series of books.

Edmund, Erik and Adan

It was good to meet fellow London Book Fair travelmates,  the affable Mr Khor of the NAC and Colin Cheong again. Colin's been great and has been so encouraging and supportive of my writing. Thanks, Colin! Festival Director Paul Tan was there too, making sure that everything was running smoothly and efficiently under his direction, which it was, naturally.

Annabelle, Kenneth and Joanne

Sihui, Auntie Susanna and Firda

Exhausted, Auntie Susanna and I headed to a food court so she could grab a late-night prawn noodle supper. Then she gave me a lift home, before she headed off for a good night's rest before her trip to the Shanghai Book Fair the next day. Actually, she's there right now and probably having a blast and she deserves it.

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