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RainShadow
09-29-2011, 11:19 PM
Not sure if this is where this question should go, so correct me if I'm wrong.

Anyhoo: I was planning on attending a free event in Chico on the 22 of October called "Skip the Pitch: Pitching the Agent Writing Loft Style" that bills itself as a chance for authors and aspiring authors to meet with five industry professionals to talk in small groups about pitching books to an agent. I was really looking forward to it, but now it turns out a friend's wedding is the same day and time.

I wanted to ask, how common is this type of event? Does anyone know of anything comparable on a different day in the CA central valley or bay area? Free or cheap would be good, I am very poor right at the moment.

Old Hack
09-30-2011, 11:55 AM
I'd go to the wedding if I were you.

Agents pitch manuscripts to editors and publishers; but writers tend not to pitch their work to agents. They send in submissions instead.

Pitching can be useful very occasionally: but most writers get by without any skills in it at all.

There are a couple of threads in BR&BC which discuss various pitching sessions in more detail: there's one on the Algonkian Writer Conferences here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11383), and one on the NY Pitch And Shop here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35783).

RainShadow
10-01-2011, 11:51 PM
Thanks for the advice. What situations would you pitch to agents in? Like if you ran into one at a conference or such?

The workshops sound lovely, though they're definitely in the 'maybe someday' pile for me at the moment, due to distance and expense.

Old Hack
10-02-2011, 12:05 AM
If you meet an agent at a conference pleeeeease don't pitch to them unless they invite you to do so. I was at a writers' conference with an agent-friend a few months ago and was appalled by how rude and intrusive writers were towards her. While I'm sure that every writer who approached her thought that they were being respectful and polite, there were so many of them that I found it exhausting, and I wasn't the one they were approaching. It was like being endlessly pecked by lots of hopeful chickens.

Concentrate instead on writing the best book that you can, and then writing the best query that you can and sending it to the most appropriate agents that you can find. It'll give you the best chance of getting published that there is.

Linda Adams
10-02-2011, 04:11 AM
An additional note: If your story isn't good enough to be published, it's not going to make any difference whether you pitch in person or do a query letter.

Susan Littlefield
10-02-2011, 05:10 AM
Even if you pitch in person, don't you end up having to send a query and material to the interested agent? If they accepted manuscripts on the spot from even those they were interested in, it seems like they would lug around a pretty heavy attache the entire conference or pitching session. What if they lost your material? What if they spilled coffee on it? At least with email, they could go back and print out a fresh copy of your work.

I don't know, I think following a formal process is probably the better bet.

Also, whether you pitch in person or via query letter, your novel must stand on its own.

Have fun at your friend's wedding! :)

RainShadow
10-02-2011, 10:53 PM
Thank you, and I'll keep that in mind if I ever do make it to a conference. So in what circumstances would one pitch in person to an agent?

Old Hack
10-02-2011, 11:30 PM
I've only ever pitched directly to an agent once. I was staying with her for the weekend and she made me do it, and laughed at me about how bad a job I did of it.

Susan Littlefield
10-03-2011, 06:26 AM
I've only ever pitched directly to an agent once. I was staying with her for the weekend and she made me do it, and laughed at me about how bad a job I did of it.

I would hate if verbally pitching a novel was a required part of submission (kind of like American Idol, eh? :D), as I write much better than I speak.

AlwaysJuly
10-03-2011, 06:59 PM
I would hate if verbally pitching a novel was a required part of submission (kind of like American Idol, eh? :D), as I write much better than I speak.
Me too. And I 've never written "Umm" down, but it tends to pop up in my speech.

Stacia Kane
10-03-2011, 08:12 PM
So in what circumstances would one pitch in person to an agent?


Some writing conferences set up pitch appointments to agents and editors. They can be valuable in one way; you get to meet and get a feel for that person, and maybe find out what they're looking for or whatever. I think if you're at a con and you get a chance to do a pitch appointment, why not, because it's always fun to meet people.

But the thing to remember is that unless your book is something that agent doesn't rep at all, or that editor doesn't acquire, they're going to ask for pages. They're going to ask for them because they don't want to hurt your feelings and they know you're sitting there with your heart in your throat mentally begging them to ask for pages. They're going to ask for them even if they think your project doesn't sound that great (honest; I've seen quite a few editors/agents say they request as a matter of course).

This is good in that you skip the query--sort of (when you send the pages you're going to have to say "We met at X conference on X afternoon, and you requested these, and here's my pitch to help you remember")--but if the writing isn't good that doesn't matter, and if the writing is good you would have gotten a request for more when you queried with five (or three, or ten, or whatever their guidelines say) pages. So really all you've gotten is a chance to meet that editor or agent in person.

Again, making a personal connection is almost always a good thing, but it really doesn't make your work publishable or not; it doesn't have any effect at all on the outcome.



I pitch in person to my agent--if the subject comes up--when we have a chance to meet up or on the phone, but that's not really a pitch. That's me saying "I've got this idea, what do you think?" and he says "Yeah, go for it!" and that's really it. :) Usually I'm sending him a written blurb to see what he thinks, anyway, or a few sample pages so he can get a feel for what I'm working on. But again, that's my agent; he already reps me.

RainShadow
10-04-2011, 02:08 AM
Thanks, this is all good to know.
Since it came up how much agents and publishers dislike unsolicited pitches at conventions, may I ask what kind of interactions with writers they prefer at such events? (Or should I take that question to the forums for talking to agents and editors?)

Old Hack
10-04-2011, 10:21 AM
You could try talking to them like they're real human beings. I've found that works.

nchahine
10-04-2011, 10:59 AM
I never understood the need for pitching. You're going to send in the query, anyway, whether you pitch in person or not. All that time spent on learning the fine art of pitching can be put to better use by improving your writing or revising your novel and query.

I know a lot of agents like to talk about pitching (Anne Mini has a whole series on it) but I always found it useless. Maybe someone can list the benefits of it one day.

Linda Adams
10-04-2011, 02:41 PM
Thanks, this is all good to know.
Since it came up how much agents and publishers dislike unsolicited pitches at conventions, may I ask what kind of interactions with writers they prefer at such events? (Or should I take that question to the forums for talking to agents and editors?)

I run a pitch session at a writer's conference, so I get to be around agents all day. You want to interact with agents? Treat them like people, be sincere and genuine:

Hi. How are you? How was the train trip from New York? Did you have any problems with the rain? Oh, that's a pretty necklace. Where did you get it? The bathroom is three doors down that way.

And smile you smile and be friendly. The agents will actually remember you because you aren't trying to get a foot in the door. The worst networkers are the one who come in with only one purpose and aren't interested in the agent, so they're focused only on making the sale.

I've never once come up and pitched a book to an agent in a social setting. But they always ask me eventually what the book is about.

RainShadow
10-05-2011, 04:46 AM
Thank you, Linda. I tend to get shy when business is involved and feel like I need a prepared excuse to approach people. It's good to be reminded that being friendly works in most situations.

Old Hack, this question must have come off to you as painfully obvious, but please bear with me. As this thread illustrates it's better for the uninitiated (me) not to assume things.

Linda Adams
10-05-2011, 05:10 AM
Thank you, Linda. I tend to get shy when business is involved and feel like I need a prepared excuse to approach people. It's good to be reminded that being friendly works in most situations.


Volunteer at the conference. It's a nice, safe way to see that the agents are just like everyone else.

Old Hack
10-05-2011, 08:59 AM
RainShadow, that was intended to make you laugh. Sorry you didn't get the joke. (But it's still good advice.)

RainShadow
10-05-2011, 09:39 PM
Old Hack: Oops, missed that one :D

Linda: Wow, that might work perfectly! I wouldn't have to worry about being on the spot, or about deciding between rent and entrance fees. Man, I have to do that.