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epullins
01-08-2013, 11:44 AM
I am considering attending a writers conference I have been following since 2011 but haven't had the money up to this point. One of the requirements of attending the conference is to write a "pitch" for your manuscript. It will have to be submitted orally in front of a panel of three different editors from major publishing houses. Can you explain to me what exactly an editor would be looking for and how much different from a normal query this would be. Any information you offer will be helpful. Thanks in advance.

Old Hack
01-08-2013, 06:00 PM
Such conferences don't help advance you through the slush pile, you know. All that might happen if your pitch is good is that you'll be invited to submit, and your submission will go straight into the slush pile, just as it would if you submitted without the pitch.

By all means go to the session if you want to, but don't consider this a shortcut to publication; and certainly don't spend money on it if you're not absolutely certain you can afford it.

epullins
01-08-2013, 09:29 PM
That was a question I had in a separate post in the background check forum, about these writer's conferences because I was not a 100% they were valid. I learned my lesson the hard way. My daughter hopes to become an actress, and she has been in several acting schools, plays, and voice overs. We attending the actors and models version of a "conference" but was much more than 425$ and that ended up a flop. I certainly didn't intend to run right out there I was just trying to see what a pitch actually included.

Mr Flibble
01-08-2013, 10:13 PM
Basically it's a verbal query - you need to entice teh agent into wanting to know more.

I'd suggest writing it out and timing it, to make sure it doesn't go too long, Keep it short, and leave yourself something to say once done (if the agent wants to ask specific questions). Like a query you don't need to tell everything.

Perhaps start off with an elevator pitch (approx thirty seconds). Try to distil what is awesome about your story into that. Not as easy as it sounds...

Some like the It's like X only with Y, or it's X meets Y as the opener sentence (when people ask about my book I say it's 'Like Bladerunner only with mages instead of replicants') or you can lead with what's unique with your character (The one and only day I pitched in person I started with 'X lies, he cheats, he steals, but at least he's honest about it, or rather I paraphrased that because that's Eddie Guerrero!). Get a few people's input (maybe in query letter hell?) and practise saying it so you don't stumble over the words.

Medievalist
01-08-2013, 10:36 PM
Publishing FAQs: [Submitting] Pitching (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=244848)

Jamesaritchie
01-08-2013, 11:03 PM
Such conferences don't help advance you through the slush pile, you know. All that might happen if your pitch is good is that you'll be invited to submit, and your submission will go straight into the slush pile, just as it would if you submitted without the pitch.

.

That's not always true. In fact, I can't think of a case where it is true. I've seen both agents and editor take a partial manuscript right on the spot, and when invited to submit, the manuscript is a requested submission and never, in my experience, goes straight to slush.

Old Hack
01-08-2013, 11:15 PM
That's not always true. In fact, I can't think of a case where it is true.

And yet I can. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, James.


I've seen both agents and editor take a partial manuscript right on the spot, and when invited to submit, the manuscript is a requested submission and never, in my experience, goes straight to slush.

In your experience the manuscript never goes straight to slush.

Your experience is not universal.

I spoke at a couple of conferences last year and chatted to several agents and editors at each one. Many of them told me that most of the submissions they'd requested would get dealt with along with the rest of their submissions.

Not one of them felt that pitching at such events gave anyone a significant advantage. The advantage that the more successful writers had was having written a good book, not making a strong pitch. And they'd have found their way out of the slush pile without the pitch.

It does happen sometimes that writers get picked up at these events. But that's very rare, and should be assumed to be the exception and not the rule.

Mr Flibble
01-09-2013, 12:04 AM
It gives you an advantage if the agent/editor in question is closed to general subs (the two people I pitched to for instance - no other way to query them). And it might get you past the 'query' stage to the 'partial/full' stage if they are open to subs (requested material may help you get higher up the reading list. Then again, it may not, depending on the agent/editor. One of the people I pitched to warned it woudl probably be 10-12 months before she got to read it such was her waiting list!. The other replied to my partial within two days).

Sunnyside
01-09-2013, 12:20 AM
I belong to Biographers International Organization, and every year at our annual conference, there's an opportunity to "speed date" with agents -- which is pretty much your chance to pitch a project. I can vouch for the fact that we've had aspiring biographers snag agents this way. Not many, but some.

So: it happens.

My advice, then? Treat your pitch like a query letter. Write it out, get it as tight as you can, and get your hook up front, preferably in your opening sentence.

Medievalist
01-09-2013, 01:20 AM
That's not always true. In fact, I can't think of a case where it is true.

Perhaps you should attend more conferences.

It's very very rare.

Generally, if the agent likes the pitch the agent gives you a card or a contact address, with instructions to remind said agent of the context and submit a full or partial.

Sometimes they say to put ATTN: nameofassistant on the submission.

rac
01-09-2013, 07:24 AM
And yet I can. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, James.



In your experience the manuscript never goes straight to slush.

Your experience is not universal.

I spoke at a couple of conferences last year and chatted to several agents and editors at each one. Many of them told me that most of the submissions they'd requested would get dealt with along with the rest of their submissions.

Not one of them felt that pitching at such events gave anyone a significant advantage. The advantage that the more successful writers had was having written a good book, not making a strong pitch. And they'd have found their way out of the slush pile without the pitch.

It does happen sometimes that writers get picked up at these events. But that's very rare, and should be assumed to be the exception and not the rule.

I agree. Years ago I had an agent who regularly attended a writers' conference, and when I asked her if she went to find new writers, she said no, her purpose in going was to connect with the staff writers and to have a pleasant summer break.

Attending pitching conferences, like attending writers' conferences, more often than not ends in disappointment. These conferences, even the most prestigious of them, have become big business. The people who run them are well aware that there are thousands of hopeful writers looking for agents. They'll never be lacking for customers. There is a novel, The Writers' Conference, that takes a close look at what to expect at a writers' conference, although it's a look with more drama.

There is always a story about someone who gets an agent at a pitching conference, but these stories are rare. Sadly, the odds of getting the break that you are seeking at your pitching conference are slim to none. It's your work that has to shine, not your pitch. Your work will earn you an agent.

James D. Macdonald
01-09-2013, 08:25 AM
From six years ago: Pitch Sessions Viewed As Useless. (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008901.html)

Nothing has changed since then.

Sunnyside
01-09-2013, 10:04 PM
While I've seen it happen, and agree it's a rare bird, I'm certainly not going to argue over this. Regardless, I do agree I wouldn't take on the sometimes substantial costs of a conference just for the sole purpose of pitching your project.