Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Le Pitch

Greetings Fellow Scribes!

Okay, I'm going to keep it short and sweet since spring has sprung and we're all no doubt enjoying all of the Cadbury eggs floating about this week.

Lately I've come across a bit of a sticky wicket, and I would love your opinion. I'm calling it "Le Pitch", which is defined as a person pitching writing services to fellow writing group members. If you're so fortunate as to be unfamiliar with this practice, let me explain.

Over the past few years I've been a member of two different writing groups where other members, under the guise of being fellow writers, have pitched fee-paying services to other group members via group meetings or e-mail (using private e-mail addresses lifted from the group directory). To be clear, I am not referring to the listing of writing services on a group resource page, or to a speaker who has been invited to address the group about writing services.

Now I do not in any way begrudge anyone the ability to make a buck, and I am certain that there are many terrific writing service providers out there who are doing a lot of good for our fellow writers. But le pitch is not helping writers; if anything it is stifling their voices. At least that's what I assume happened to the woman I saw caught in the snare of this ugly practice. Fresh pages in hand, she stood in front of a group and read her work, her voice trembling and her hands shaking. When she was finished, the member making le pitch leaned over and handed her a business card for editorial services. The woman stuffed the card and her pages into her bag, beat a path to the door twenty minutes later, and never returned.

Come on! There's a time and a place to make le pitch, and a writing group is not one of them. And yet this new custom seems to be taking hold. It's a practice that seems akin to therapists infiltrating twelve step meetings for the purposes of advertising their counseling services. In other words, a violation of the spirit of the organization, and a way to thwart the purpose of the group.

But what do I know? I could be wrong. What do you think? Has this ever happened to you? Am I out of line on this one, or do you agree?


Jillian Jenkins said...

I think what frustrates me most about this whole thing, is that everyone seems to think they can be an editor for pay. I don't know how many of my friends have decided to take up the service, cover art design, etc. because they're looking for extra money. But kind of like writing, while anyone can do it, not everyone has to speak. And I feel like people are trying to take advantage of all of the budding writers out there by offering services they might not be qualified to give. For those who ARE, it's just rude to self-impose your business, especially on friends or people are supposed to be equal peers. It's not encouraging and makes me think of scammers. :/

Calle J. Brookes said...

What a way to complete traumatize a budding author! "Here's my card, you obviously need my service!"

As a writer, AND as a professional editor, I am floored at the lack of professionalism, and basic respect for other writers 'le pitch' is showing.

I'm with you, Therese. It's tactless and uncalled for.

Meg said...

This has been going on for a long time, although now "editorial services" seem to be sprouting a thousand heads. There are *so* many free or cheap workshops for learning the craft. Savvy Authors is one, and joining a writing organization like RWA or a local writers' critique group is another. "Buyer beware" is something to keep in mind if a writer chooses to pay -- check the qualifications, publications, etc.

Tracy Krauss said...

I also find this alarming since some of these people doing 'le pitch' are no more professional than other members of the group...

jeff7salter said...

In the example you gave, that person was heavy-handed and terribly insensitive.
Some people 'get off' on trying to make themselves look important at the expense of other folks.
I don't blame the other person for never coming back.

Sherry Gloag said...

That poor writer, I feel for her. I have not come across this but if it happened to me I'd simply stand there and rip the card into little pieces and drop it in their lap.
Tactles, tasteless and highly unprofessional business and any writers' group worth their salt should make it plain that kind of behaviour is prohibited and anyone who ignores the rules should be banned from the group.
So, I suppose, in a way, I'm saying the group organisers are also responsible for allowing it to continue in their group.