Not long ago I participated in a “pitch slam” session, this time at ThrillerFest at the Grand Hyatt, New York City. The purpose of this event, dubbed PitchFest, is to get authors and agents together in a scenario that’s not far off speed-dating! Authors get a few minutes to pitch to an agent, get a reaction, and then move on to another agent.
Here are some observations and tips for pitching to an agent or an editor at a conference.
- Authors have become savvier than ever when it comes to selecting the editors and agents they want to pitch to. Gone are the days when authors tried to sit down with everyone and hoped for some interest.
As a result of this increased focus, the projects we heard about were more often appropriate for us. This is great news! Agents are busy people and most of us simply can’t read or listen to every pitch that comes our way. A pitch that is inappropriate in terms of age group, genre, and tone, is a waste of time for both agents and authors.
Pitching appropriately demonstrates your professionalism. It means that you did your homework. A healthy respect for our time and yours is part of the foundation for building a career.
- What I didn’t care for at pitch sessions are the pitches that are obviously rigorously memorized performances. They are usually accompanied by a steady stare as the author recites. It’s almost as if the intention is to hypnotize. I get too focused on the performance, which is shame for the pitcher.
Yes, you need to make your pitch have an impact, but I recommend a more informal, relaxed exchange, even when time is limited.
- Finally, it’s worth remembering that you don’t need to be nervous. Readers are often surprised to find that their favorite writers are friendly, down-to-earth people. The same can be said of most agents.Your novel is important to you and our time is precious, but don’t let getting tongue-tied get in the way of telling us about your idea or asking us questions about the industry.If you meet an agent at a conference, the chances are good that you are both looking for opportunities to network, discover, and share. There isn’t a better time to pitch your novel.
Pitch sessions like these are the best way to get quality time to discuss your project with a publishing professional. It’s no wonder they are more popular than ever.
Make the most of these opportunities by following these tips and preparing a little beforehand.