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MikaelaBender
11-28-2013, 03:49 AM
What would you say would be the best way to present your pitch to agents at a writers conference? I have heard you have about 10 minuets for your presentation.

blacbird
11-28-2013, 06:28 AM
I have heard you have about 10 minuets for your presentation.

No, you generally don't get ten minuets. You might get a waltz or two, or if you're in the right genre, a polka.

caw

Siri Kirpal
11-28-2013, 07:11 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Some conferences give less. Ten minutes is good. In all cases, remember to smile, remember that you're on the give and not on the take, remember that the agent is also a human being. Dress nicely without being elaborate. Walk with dignity. Have ready a sheet with the book details and synopsis, a short bio and your contact info.

Agents may ask about which books are similar to yours. Be prepared to name some. They may ask about the character arc of the MC. Be prepared to give it. I assume you know a quick version of your plot.

Breathe deeply and enjoy.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

MikaelaBender
11-28-2013, 05:38 PM
Thank you so much.

Writer-2-Author
11-30-2013, 06:12 AM
I've attended two conferences a year for the past 4 years. Each pitch time was anywhere from three to fifteen minutes. The majority are less than five minutes. The conference leaders will tell you that the first minute is yours to pitch, the rest is for the agent to ask questions. As Siri said, make sure you can answer all of them.

Some conference leaders will tell you to bring a few pages of your opening chapter, a synopsis, even a proposal. However, most, and I agree, will tell you to bring a business card and nothing else. Prepare your pitch; you can print it out and bring it with you. Think of it this way: If they hear 50 pitches and ask to see more work from 15 of them, and they all bring paperwork with them for the agent, that agent is going to bring all that home with them.

If an agent is interested in seeing more of your work, they will give you their information and tell you how to submit that work to them. Be professional, dress professional, and relax as much as possible. Remember, they are there to find new talent!

What conferences are thinking about attending? Another big key is to research all of the agents to find out what they are looking for. Most pitch blocks are an hour or so, which means you might only get to pitch 5 or 6 agents. You don't want to waste your time or theirs pitching to an agent that doesn't rep what you write. Good luck to you!!!

Grimball4
12-04-2013, 04:33 AM
Pitching Conferences sound great, where do you find out about them? Any coming up in Los Angeles?

amergina
12-04-2013, 04:38 AM
I've pitched at conferences. But both times, I had loads of time. 12-15 minutes.

Still, what I did was prepare a three sentence pitch and then let them ask me questions.

I did get a request from an agent for pages. That lead to a full and then to an agreement, so sometimes pitches pan out! (mind you, it was almost a year from pitch to signing, so...)

Siri Kirpal
12-04-2013, 07:34 AM
Pitching Conferences sound great, where do you find out about them? Any coming up in Los Angeles?

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Google "Writers Conferences Los Angeles 2014." That should tell you what you want to know. (I'm attend one in San Diego late next month.)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Old Hack
12-04-2013, 11:50 AM
Be very careful. There are a couple of pitching conferences which are notoriously scammy, and are to be avoided. If you do go to one, make sure that reputable, successful agents are attending.

Also, recognise that even if they result in a request all that will happen is you'll be in the same position you'd have been in if you'd sent in a query and had a request from that--only you'll have had to pay for the conference, and they don't come cheap.

blacbird
12-04-2013, 12:17 PM
Some years ago I went through this "pitching" exercise at maybe three or four conferences. A worse writing-related exercise I can't imagine. Dreadful. Horrible. Depressing. Disheartening. Without redeeming virtue of any sort. Worse than hawking packets of garden seeds door-to-door. I'd rather stand on a streetcorner in a blizzard with a cardboard sign asking for donations.

caw

Grimball4
12-05-2013, 01:39 AM
Thanks!!! When in doubt Google it!!!

rac
12-05-2013, 01:51 AM
Be very careful. There are a couple of pitching conferences which are notoriously scammy, and are to be avoided. If you do go to one, make sure that reputable, successful agents are attending.

Also, recognise that even if they result in a request all that will happen is you'll be in the same position you'd have been in if you'd sent in a query and had a request from that--only you'll have had to pay for the conference, and they don't come cheap.

I couldn't agree more! On his blog, literary agent Andrew Zack wrote that he got into trouble at a conference he attended for telling writers that he wasn't interested in their work. The conference organizers were concerned that his honesty would lead to author dissatisfaction and buyer's remorse. The article he wrote, "What's Wrong With Writers' Conferences" is interesting. I'm putting the link below. You have to scroll down to find it. It was posted on November 7, 2012. Nothing has really changed regarding writers' conferences since it was written.

http://www.zackcompany.com/index.php/component/option,com_easyblog/Itemid,106/view,latest/

rac
12-05-2013, 03:37 AM
Some years ago I went through this "pitching" exercise at maybe three or four conferences. A worse writing-related exercise I can't imagine. Dreadful. Horrible. Depressing. Disheartening. Without redeeming virtue of any sort. Worse than hawking packets of garden seeds door-to-door. I'd rather stand on a streetcorner in a blizzard with a cardboard sign asking for donations.

caw

Your description of the experience of pitching is the best I've read yet, and I've read a lot of them. It's so disheartening. I'm sorry this happened to you. If it's any comfort, you're not alone. Thousands of writers come home from conferences devastated, but they don't talk about it, which mystifies me. Writers know how to express themselves, yet they keep the disappointing experiences they've had at conferences to themselves.

Some people have successful experiences at writers' conferences, but they are in the minority. Ironically, we seem to hear from them far more than from those who were disappointed. And the conferences continue to grow and spread...

Grimball4
12-05-2013, 03:41 AM
Now it sounds like they are not worth it.. It's like spending hundreds on lottery tickets and only end up winning two bucks...

amergina
12-05-2013, 03:59 AM
I think it really depends on the conference. If all you're going for is to pitch, then no. Not worth it. If the conference has classes and workshops about writing and the business and you go for that, it might be worth it.

I've not regretted going to writing conferences. But I also chose the ones with classes or guests I'd like.

Siri Kirpal
12-05-2013, 07:16 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The ones where you have only a minute or two to pitch your material aren't going to be fun. But if you get to sit down and have a real conversation with an agent who has even a glimmer of interest can tell you worlds if you're willing to watch the body language and listen.

It helps if you don't get stage fright.

Classes can also be good.

So conferences aren't a total loss...providing you pick good ones.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

M. H. Lee
12-05-2013, 08:45 AM
Now it sounds like they are not worth it.. It's like spending hundreds on lottery tickets and only end up winning two bucks...

Not necessarily. I pitched at a conference this year (to an agent I had queried previously on the same novel) and got a partial request. Ended up being rejected because the concept of the novel just isn't strong enough, BUT it also got me a "well-written, send me the first 50 pages of your next novel" which I think was a fantastic result.

As others have said, it was a good conference to attend even if I'd had no interest from the agent. So, don't just go to pitch an agent, but I think sometimes an in-person conversation can make for a stronger impression than an e-mail query.

Old Hack
12-05-2013, 11:38 AM
It costs money to attend a conference.

It's free to send a query to an agency.

Either might get your book read by an agent, but neither will get you representation if your book isn't good enough.

rac
12-06-2013, 08:53 PM
It costs money to attend a conference.

It's free to send a query to an agency.



Conferences are designed to make money. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist. It's interesting that during the Great Recession we've just gone through, writers' conferences didn't suffer. In fact, they expanded. There are more conferences now than ever before. Writers' conferences have become a booming industry. I'm not sure that this is a good thing. It seems to me that, at some level, they prey on people's dreams for profit.

amergina
12-06-2013, 09:18 PM
Conferences are designed to make money. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist. It's interesting that during the Great Recession we've just gone through, writers' conferences didn't suffer. In fact, they expanded. There are more conferences now than ever before. Writers' conferences have become a booming industry. I'm not sure that this is a good thing. It seems to me that, at some level, they prey on people's dreams for profit.

You have any data to back this statement up, or are you just assuming all of this?

Medievalist
12-06-2013, 09:56 PM
What would you say would be the best way to present your pitch to agents at a writers conference? I have heard you have about 10 minuets for your presentation.

There's a riveting Publishing FAQ: Pitching (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=244848)

Medievalist
12-06-2013, 10:01 PM
Conferences are designed to make money. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist. It's interesting that during the Great Recession we've just gone through, writers' conferences didn't suffer. In fact, they expanded. There are more conferences now than ever before. Writers' conferences have become a booming industry. I'm not sure that this is a good thing. It seems to me that, at some level, they prey on people's dreams for profit.

That rather depends on the conference; look at choosing to attend a conference much the same way you'd look at choosing to attend a college.

What is the conference program? Are the editors and agents and authors whose names you know and respect?

Is the conference promising things that are completely unrealistic?

Is the conference presenter/runner someone whose primary source of income appears to be running conferences (that's a very very bad sign)?

You'll find respected writing organizations often run really good, and helpful conferences: RWA and SCEWBI in particular come to mind.

You'll often find a writing track at genre conferences; look at the people presenting.

I wouldn't attend a conference with the primary goal of pitching; that's daft.

Old Hack
12-06-2013, 10:53 PM
Conferences are designed to make money. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist. It's interesting that during the Great Recession we've just gone through, writers' conferences didn't suffer. In fact, they expanded. There are more conferences now than ever before. Writers' conferences have become a booming industry. I'm not sure that this is a good thing. It seems to me that, at some level, they prey on people's dreams for profit.

I've spoken at several writers' conferences. I've seen writers, new and old, getting all sorts of good advice and real, useful help with their work at conferences: they can be wonderful.

I've also seen the same faces turn up at those conferences year in and year out, with no publications to their name. They pitch the same books to the same agents in the same ways, and wonder why they get the same rejection each and every time.

This happens at conferences good and bad.

I agree that some conferences are exploitative, and that writers should question their value: but I also think that writers should question the value of repeatedly attending writerly events when they aren't getting published. It might be that they'd be better off spending their money on the more detailed, specific help that an editorial agency might provide; or it could be that they're just not good enough to get published, and they should consider taking a new route through their lives.

amergina
12-06-2013, 11:24 PM
Or maybe they should write a new, better book (as Uncle Jim says).

blacbird
12-06-2013, 11:44 PM
Your description of the experience of pitching is the best I've read yet, and I've read a lot of them. It's so disheartening. I'm sorry this happened to you. If it's any comfort, you're not alone. Thousands of writers come home from conferences devastated, but they don't talk about it, which mystifies me. Writers know how to express themselves, yet they keep the disappointing experiences they've had at conferences to themselves.

Some people have successful experiences at writers' conferences, but they are in the minority. Ironically, we seem to hear from them far more than from those who were disappointed. And the conferences continue to grow and spread...

To clarify, I don't object to conferences themselves. I just found the pitch sessions to be horror in overdrive.

Other aspects of conferences vary widely. If you plan on going to one, do a little research in advance to understand how each individual one works, what kinds of things are being presented/offered, etc. But, as a couple of people here have said, don't go solely for the pitch sessions. That's much like people who show up here solely to get their 50 post count in order to put something up in SYW.

caw

Roger J Carlson
12-07-2013, 12:06 AM
I agree that some conferences are exploitative, and that writers should question their value: but I also think that writers should question the value of repeatedly attending writerly events when they aren't getting published. It might be that they'd be better off spending their money on the more detailed, specific help that an editorial agency might provide; or it could be that they're just not good enough to get published, and they should consider taking a new route through their lives.All true.

But I'd also point out that conferences are not just about getting published. They are also social outlets enabling people in a solitary profession to talk with others of like mind. I think this can be of enormous benefit even for people who are never published.

Old Hack
12-07-2013, 01:53 AM
Roger, you're right, of course.

rac
12-08-2013, 11:45 PM
All true.

But I'd also point out that conferences are not just about getting published. They are also social outlets enabling people in a solitary profession to talk with others of like mind. I think this can be of enormous benefit even for people who are never published.

I agree. Lasting friendships can be formed.

Networking is also important for writers who teach at conferences, which is one of the reasons they attend.

rac
12-09-2013, 12:36 AM
That rather depends on the conference; look at choosing to attend a conference much the same way you'd look at choosing to attend a college.

What is the conference program? Are the editors and agents and authors whose names you know and respect?

Is the conference promising things that are completely unrealistic?

Is the conference presenter/runner someone whose primary source of income appears to be running conferences (that's a very very bad sign)?

You'll find respected writing organizations often run really good, and helpful conferences: RWA and SCEWBI in particular come to mind.

You'll often find a writing track at genre conferences; look at the people presenting.

I wouldn't attend a conference with the primary goal of pitching; that's daft.

You've made some great points. Anyone who attends a writers' conference has to be a careful shopper. Also, it helps to go with realistic expectations

It's important to do some research on the teaching staff, if possible. Being a famous writer doesn't necessarily make that person a good teacher. There are skilled teachers at conferences; the challenge is to find out who they are and where they are teaching. Also, are they successful in your genre?

Hopefully WLCT
01-10-2014, 03:59 AM
Sometimes they ask for 5 pages...which 5?? How in the world do you choose?

amergina
01-10-2014, 04:27 AM
Sometimes they ask for 5 pages...which 5?? How in the world do you choose?

The first five.

If they ask for 5 or 10 or 50, it's always the first 5 or 10 or 50.

TerryRodgers
01-10-2014, 10:17 PM
Hi guys. I’d like to add to the thread if I may.

I help run PitchFest (formerly called AgentFest) for the ThrillerFest Conference each year. You have three minutes at our conference. It's like speed dating. Some of the agents take less than the three minutes while I've seen some agents keep people for more than ten minutes. Since I’ve been involved the last four years, we have had no less than 50 agents there, from the new agent hungry to build their client list to agents that represent the biggest names in the industry.

The main thing that people have already said is true. Be professional, be yourself, relax, do your homework, and be ready. Pitch one novel. And absolutely do not pitch the same novel year after year.

We do not tell any of the agents how to run their table. They can say yes or no. And they do say no, especially when the attendee doesn't do their homework and pitches a cookbook at a Thriller conference to an agent that doesn't rep cookbooks. We do our best to list what the agent is currently seeking on the website, and we place a sign next to the agent that spells out what they want.

We have had many success stories, including the current Director of PitchFest and just this week if anyone happened to watch the new series Intelligence, the show is based off a novel that just came out this week from John Dixon. He found his agent two years ago at PitchFest.

Finally, as some have said, many people that attend conferences go there to mingle and network. You never know whom you might meet and build a relationship with.

blacbird
01-11-2014, 11:29 AM
I help run PitchFest (formally called AgentFest) for the ThrillerFest Conference each year. You have three minutes at our conference.

So . . . an auctioneer would fare well at your conference?

caw

TerryRodgers
01-12-2014, 03:47 AM
So . . . an auctioneer would fare well at your conference?

caw

Pretty close...lol

Seriously though, if someone were to come up to you and say you have one minute to tell me what your current novel is about, you throw out a few sentences that sums it up. That's what PitchFest or any pitch conference that is similar is all about. You have 3 1/2 hours to go to as many agents as you can. I know many that see 18-20 agents. Some see 12-15. A few, for whatever reason that I can't fathom, will go and see 4 or 5.

You don't need more than 3 minutes anyway. Either you have a concept that the agent or editor would like to see or you don't. I've been to conferences where you had 10 or 15 minutes and you had to pay for each person you wanted to see. Because this particular conference is in NYC, those same agents and editors are here and all part of the same cost.

TerryRodgers
01-12-2014, 03:50 AM
You've made some great points. Anyone who attends a writers' conference has to be a careful shopper. Also, it helps to go with realistic expectations

It's important to do some research on the teaching staff, if possible. Being a famous writer doesn't necessarily make that person a good teacher. There are skilled teachers at conferences; the challenge is to find out who they are and where they are teaching. Also, are they successful in your genre?

I very much agree with this.

johnro
04-03-2014, 08:42 PM
WHat are the notoriously scammy ones?

blacbird
04-04-2014, 11:32 AM
conferences are not just about getting published. They are also social outlets enabling people in a solitary profession to talk with others of like mind. I think this can be of enormous benefit even for people who are never published.

Kind of like signing up for a Tony Robbins enthusiasm seminar? Or getting involved with AmWay? Or maybe Scientology?

caw

Fizgig
04-04-2014, 07:30 PM
After one experience with a speed pitch session with agents, I'd say that these specific events are one avenue that might be a good way to access agents IF you are good at those kinds of things.

If you thrive in high-stress environments and come off well in person, are able to pitch comfortably face to face, etc, then I think agent pitch sessions (obviously with reputable agents!!) can be a great way to make a positive impression.

If those things aren't true about you (you get nervous in loud, crowded places, you don't feel comfortable selling yourself face to face, etc) then I'd say stay away. There are plenty of other ways to get your book in front of an agent including good old fashioned querying or writing contests.

I haven't been able to attend a full conference yet, but if I do I will go only with the hope of meeting some other writers and networking a little bit, maybe even making new friends. I would probably sign up for pitch sessions, but I would mostly expect it to be good practice pitching (with the slight chance that I might meet my "one-true soulmate agent" who loves my concept).

Think its probably all about knowing your own strengths and managing expectations.

imjustj
04-06-2014, 02:30 AM
I would like to add that not all conferences are designed "to make money." I am part of a conference put on by a local group and our goal is to put on a good conference without losing money. Some years, the stars align and we come out a little bit ahead. That just means we can fight off the inevitable price increase by another year.

Just as with anything else, do your research. There are plenty of good conferences, with great agents and even reasonably priced -- it doesn't mean they are all a good fit for every writer.

blacbird
04-06-2014, 09:19 AM
I'm trying to envision Emily Dickinson or Franz Kafka or Harper Lee or J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon "pitching" at a writer's conference.

My brain is telling me with tsunamis of pain that I shouldn't think about such things.

caw

amergina
04-06-2014, 11:30 AM
If it doesn't work for you blacbird, don't.

It does work for some, apparently.

JJ Litke
06-19-2014, 09:47 PM
I have a question about business cards at conferences and what info to include. One article suggested that you put your manuscript title, genre, and word count on your business card. What do y'all think of that? I suppose it's a good idea for the agents I'll be pitching, but if I use those cards to exchange contact info with anyone else, I can't help but think it'll look a little odd. And I figure if those agents should be interested, they'll probably tell me to email them anyway. So I'm leaning toward going with name, email, website, and maybe Twitter.

Anyway, opinions are appreciated. :D

MandyHubbard
06-19-2014, 11:19 PM
I have a question about business cards at conferences and what info to include. One article suggested that you put your manuscript title, genre, and word count on your business card. What do y'all think of that? I suppose it's a good idea for the agents I'll be pitching, but if I use those cards to exchange contact info with anyone else, I can't help but think it'll look a little odd. And I figure if those agents should be interested, they'll probably tell me to email them anyway. So I'm leaning toward going with name, email, website, and maybe Twitter.

Anyway, opinions are appreciated. :D

The agents at the conference WILL NOT want your card, 99 times out of 100. I know that sounds harsh, but the point is-- if we want your material, we give YOU our cards, and you submit the material via email later, with a nice signature block of your website and twitter, etc.

I have no idea why so many authors come equipped with cards to thrust at agents, but they do. I've given worskhops and had writers walk up to me after and literally just say, "I just wanted to give you this." They toss a card at me and leave.

Like, am i supposed to email them after and be like, "I have your card, so... Hey."? I'm not sure. But I end up with a little stack of cards to throw away after every conference. I feel bad, and it seems like such a waste, but the times I politely decline, the authors look so stricken, like I'm rejecting them!

JJ Litke
06-19-2014, 11:28 PM
Oh whew, I'm glad I asked. I'd bet the reason authors do that is because so many articles tell us to. But I've also seen lots of agent advice that they don't want to be handed anything. My gut told me not to, but I'd hate to not have cards if it were truly expected.

Thank you, Mandy! That's one less thing I have to worry about getting done in advance. Now I can focus on my short pitch (which I promise to never deliver outside of an actual pitch session, especially not in the restrooms).

BenPanced
06-20-2014, 06:00 AM
I pitched at the last conference I went to, and got cards from everybody who requested material. They're great for taking notes on the extra information that isn't included; two editors had me send the manuscript to additional people, so I wrote that information on the back of the cards. And I did have some business cards with me in case anybody asked for them, which they did.

JJ Litke
06-20-2014, 07:00 AM
Thanks, BenPanced. I have some business card stock for my home printer, so I might just print a couple of sheets for exchanging basic contact info. I'm hoping to meet some other local writers, bonus if they also write spec.

phantasy
06-20-2014, 11:51 PM
I'm trying to envision Emily Dickinson or Franz Kafka or Harper Lee or J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon "pitching" at a writer's conference.

My brain is telling me with tsunamis of pain that I shouldn't think about such things.

caw

Ditto. I think I'll stick to using my time to improve my work and hangout at AW. Plus, it's good to know that you don't need to go to these things as I'm a pretty private person.