I’m back from two wonderful writers conferences: Missouri Writers’ Guild (in St. Louis) and Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc (in Oklahoma City). After whirlwind back-to-back weekends of pitch sessions I share some of my top tips for pitching agents in person:
- You are the best advocate for your own work. So pitch me looking me in the eye and use your language to show how excited you are about this project. If you aren’t excited, it’s hard for me to get excited.
- Know how much time you have (i.e. how long the pitch sessions are) and focus on making the most of it. This is your opportunity. Use it!
- Start with your hook, word count and genre (just like a query letter) and then get into the juicy details of the plot. But keep it brief, I do not want a full synopsis read to me for 10 minutes.
- We are going to ask questions, so take a deep breath and answer them to the best of your ability and focus on framing it in a way we want to hear (i.e. focus on the hook, main characters, and drama).
- Don’t get down if one pitch doesn’t go well. There are other agents at pitch sessions, who have other varied opinions, so pick yourself back up and keep going.
- Use this wonderful opportunity to actively connect with an agent. Tell them you follow them on Twitter, or read their blogs and magazine articles. Tell them you admire client X and have read all their books. You only get a handful of agents in your hometown once a year, so be unforgettable.
- Know what makes your project unique. Know what else is out there on the bookstore shelves and how your book stands out.
- Read the agent’s bio BEFORE you pitch them. Make sure you’re pitching books they want to hear about.
- If we don’t want to see pages you won’t be able to argue your way into changing our minds. Accept our opinion and ask if there is any feedback for your pitch itself.
- As said before by agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg: “Don’t go into your pitch session thinking you’re going to walk away with an offer of representation in hand.” If an agent gave you a business card and told you to send pages you’ve accomplished everything you needed to in those 5, 7 or 10 minutes.
- 99% of agents DO NOT want to take any material with them. We will usually not accept bookmarks or query letters. Please always follow up via email.
- And, more importantly, don’t be nervous–we are normal people looking for great writers who pitch terrific projects. It could be you.
Q: What have you learned from pitching agents in person?