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JoshSpaceCole
03-13-2014, 06:39 AM
I'm going to the Pennwriters conference in May, and I've noticed that two of the agents reading my full manuscript are going to be there. I'm supposed to schedule pitch sessions now, and I'm wondering if it would be a mistake to set a meeting with one or both of them...

I don't want to seem over-eager, but I would just love the chance just to meet them in person. If, however, they reject my novel before I get there, I'm not sure if there'd be much point left. I have other stories to talk about, but don't know if it would feel too much like I'm putting them on the spot.

This particular story is tricky too because I've been querying for more than a year, so odds are pretty good that any agent I sit down with will have read at least the query before. Am I wasting my time? Should I just focus on the next story instead?

This will be my first conference, so I'm excited but pretty uncertain!

Thank you!

Old Hack
03-13-2014, 11:21 AM
If they're already reading your full manuscript, then you'd be wasting your pitch session if you pitched to them.

Pitch to new agents. Try to get others to look at it.

JoshSpaceCole
03-13-2014, 06:45 PM
Okay, that makes sense, thanks!

Is there any point in pitching to someone if you've already sent them or their company a query and received no response yet? Or a rejection?

The other part of me's thinking now that I have queried half the known world and have a good bit of it reading the manuscript, it might just be time to scoot on to pitching my more recently completed work...

But then the question of who to pitch to starts all over again! Alas.

Siri Kirpal
03-13-2014, 10:02 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

If you have a second work to pitch that you haven't queried, you could pitch that one to any agent that reps the genre. That's what I would do, since you seem to have queried nearly everyone for your first book.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

JoshSpaceCole
03-14-2014, 05:02 AM
I think that's a good idea! I was hoping this would be an opportunity to lock down the first book, but it's just as exciting to get the second one going on this long road.

And now I have until May to make sure that story is ready! Which means I have to take a break from writing the third... (I cycle stories between drafts, like crop rotation!)

Thank you again, Siri, you've been an incredible help.

blacbird
03-14-2014, 09:06 AM
I have participated in two or three "pitch sessions" at major writer's conferences. i also spent a long time pitching baseball.

I'd have been better served to go outside the conference hotel, find a parking lot wall, and thrown about a hundred fastballs with a tennis ball against that wall, than to have participated in the conference "pitch session." A more disheartening experience in the writing arena, I have never taken part in.

caw

JoshSpaceCole
03-14-2014, 06:39 PM
Ha! I've read that too, Blacbird, though not put quite so finely before. But if there's one thing you can be sure to find in an aspiring writer, it's baseless hope.

And, most likely, a tenuous grasp on reality...

Anyway, with that in mind, wouldn't I be best off just seeking to sit down with whomever I'd most like to meet? I wouldn't mind simply having a conversation with an agent I respect...

Tromboli
03-14-2014, 07:30 PM
I'd also do the new work. You might consider choosing the agents who have read the full of the first book still. I usually push people who have previously requested other works up on my new query lists, thinking they probably like something about my writing. So even if they reject the first book you can pitch them another. However, it might get sticky if they still haven't responded by then because you usually don't want to push more than one book to an agent.

I see how its a little complicated.

Right or wrong that's probably what I would do though. I do see some good in meeting an agent you already know is interested. It will make them remember you, hopefully you make a good impression :) You'll be missing a chance to pitch a new agent but I'd personally be okay with that. Theres only so much good in pitching in person for someone you have no idea will be interesting in your writing. You can always just query them.

I'd also check to see if any of the agents taking pitches are closed to unsolicited material because that's a great opportunity.

JoshSpaceCole
03-14-2014, 07:37 PM
Isn't it, though?

Here's what I'm leaning toward: one of the agents reading my full manuscript is also the best choice for my second book, and also one of the folks I'm most interested in meeting, just to pick her brain.

Keeping in mind that the pitch session itself is usually not the best format anyway, I'll set my one allotted pitch appointment with her so I'll at least have the chance to learn a little more about the industry from someone who shares my interests.

What do you think?

Also, thank you again everybody for all your help! For fear of trolls and idiocy, I have avoided forums since youth, but everyone I've met here is crazy nice and helpful.

Sheryl Nantus
03-14-2014, 07:48 PM
I believe that if you volunteer to help out at the conference you might get a chance to hit up as many agents as you can manage... you'll have to check on it, it might have changed since I volunteered a few years ago.

Volunteers are always appreciated. More so if it gives you a chance to get in more sessions with agents.

;)

Old Hack
03-14-2014, 08:25 PM
Sheryl is right, but if you do happen to chat with an agent don't pitch your book unless invited. I've spent a few writers' conferences with friends who are agents and it's awful how they get cornered and picked at by writers who are desperate to pitch their work.

JoshSpaceCole
03-15-2014, 04:25 AM
I hear about stuff like that, zombie writers chasing agents into restrooms.

I have this inkling that agents, being human and all, don't want to work with people who see them as prizes to be won, or, even worse, don't respect their time or space.

I don't shout pitches at my friends, I can't imagine why I would want to shout pitches at someone who could actually effect my career.

Old Hack
03-15-2014, 12:15 PM
I hear about stuff like that, zombie writers chasing agents into restrooms.

Once, at a conference, I was waiting in line for the ladies' room with an agent-friend and I lost count of the number of people who approached her there.

One person talked to her and followed her along the queue, and when she went into the cubicle waited outside for her to finish, talking at her all the time. It was astonishing. How she remains gracious and polite astonishes me.

blacbird
03-15-2014, 11:29 PM
Once, at a conference, I was waiting in line for the ladies' room with an agent-friend and I lost count of the number of people who approached her there.

One person talked to her and followed her along the queue, and when she went into the cubicle waited outside for her to finish, talking at her all the time. It was astonishing. How she remains gracious and polite astonishes me.

This syndrome, in my observation, is exactly why I got so disgusted at the "pitch session" process. The last one I went to, we stood in a line outside the small room in which the agent dwelt, with the door open, and got to listen to every preceding "pitch". After hearing seven or eight of these, I just left the line and went to the bar.

Where I found a table in the corner, away from everyone else, and got to observe aspiring writers descend on every agent, or presumed agent, like green flies after a ripe carcass.

Worse yet, some of these agents appeared to enjoy such sycophancy, actively.

The year before that, at another major west coast conference, I had the joy of "pitching" to an agent whose sole interest in being there was to pitch to aspiring writers that agency's own book on how to get published. That particular agency is still in business, and quite well-known.

I stopped going to conferences.

caw

amergina
03-15-2014, 11:43 PM
I met my agent through a pitch session. :e2shrug:

Old Hack
03-16-2014, 12:26 AM
I've seen agents behave with great grace and thoughtfulness at pitch sessions.

I've also seen agents brat out at pitch sessions.

Most of the agents I know are in the former camp, thank goodness, and most are thoughtful, capable, and care passionately about their author-clients, no matter where they found them.

Siri Kirpal
03-16-2014, 02:31 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Every one of people I've pitched to--3 agents and 1 publishing editor--has been extremely helpful and kind. I've learned more by pitching than I've learned in lots of places. All 3 agents have asked for more material; that's a better percentage than I get by querying. And the editor gave me referrals. If there are bad apples, I haven't run into them.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

JoshSpaceCole
03-17-2014, 04:07 AM
I think it's all going to be very educational, no matter what, and I have no reason to think it'll be less than pleasant. Every agent and editor I've interacted with so far in my life has been incredibly helpful and patient.

Of course there have to be some that are less than exemplary, but I don't see why I'd worry about them. I don't want to work with them as much as they can't be bothered with me!

I look forward to sitting with whomever I end up meeting, whether or not they can immediately advance my career. I'm here to learn!

MandyHubbard
03-20-2014, 02:45 AM
The year before that, at another major west coast conference, I had the joy of "pitching" to an agent whose sole interest in being there was to pitch to aspiring writers that agency's own book on how to get published. That particular agency is still in business, and quite well-known.

I stopped going to conferences.

caw

Now I am dying to know if it was the agent/agency I am thinking of. Was it a west coast agent as well? (I'm one so I cross paths with most west coast agents!)

Pitch appointments are quite a mix of formats and results. I've done everything from 7.5 hours (over two days) of speed pitching, in which the bell rang every three minutes and the next person sat down (and yes I ran out of business cards), to 10 minute, pre-scheduled pitches for just an hour or two.

Many conferences offer both critique slots (you send in 2-10 pages in advance, then meet with the agent at the conference and discuss feedback) and pitch appointments. If you have the choice, i think the crit appointment is most valuable and useful and if the agent falls in love with the writing they'll just request it anyway.

I'm doing a conference soon that has this huge afternoon before it all kicks off called "Ask a Mentor" where the various faculty are assigned to tables and people can come in and sit down and just ask questions, which I think is brilliant!

I'll be honest, I have mixed feelings on the effectiveness of pitch appointments at conferences versus just querying an agent. At each conference there really is two or three that I leave the conference going, "Gosh I hope that one holds up! It sound slike it could be amazing!" And i eagelry anticipate it's arrival.

The problem is there are a few terrible ones (people who just have no idea what they wrote-- sometimes a person sits down and pitches me their YA novel about a "young doctor" or something, who is in their late 20s, and I dont even rep that adult stuff and they don't seem to know they didn't write a YA novel) but a WHOLE LOT in the middle, that I figure may be good or may be terrible and it's the writing that matters, and so I just request 5 or 10 pages.

But when people query me my instruction say to include 5 pages. (Which I do read if I'm on the fence)... so I'm basically just telling them to query me becuase an in-person pitch isn't enough for me to decide on a full manuscript.

At the same time, I actually do enjoy taking pitches becuase it allows me to meet so many attendees one on one and there really are some gems in the mix.

So, basically-- do the pitch appointments if it appeals to you. If it doesn't, attend the conference to learn and mingle and have fun, and query the agent later, saying "I attended your talk at X conference and liked what you said about Y...." and that'll help your query stand out.

Mr Flibble
03-20-2014, 03:01 AM
I've seen agents behave with great grace and thoughtfulness at pitch sessions.

I've also seen agents brat out at pitch sessions.

Most of the agents I know are in the former camp, thank goodness, and most are thoughtful, capable, and care passionately about their author-clients, no matter where they found them.

While there aren't pitch sessions as such in the UK cons I've been too, all the agents have been very welcoming of pitches. (I haven't seen anyone follow them into the loo though...)

But then, I've heard one or two say that is part of the reason they are there-- to hopefully find that great next new book.

It may be different in the US, but every agent wants to find the Next Big Thing. Just be polite about it

(Over here, I see more writers have an angst about the etiquette of approaching an agent and pitching -- because gosh that's a bit forward -- with many saying, naaah, they prolly don't want to hear it...I felt exactly the same before I did my first pitch, and got an excellent breakdown of the industry from a top agent when I plucked up the courage :D ETA: OK, when Waylander made me. He was right to, as well.)

Old Hack
03-20-2014, 11:25 AM
While there aren't pitch sessions as such in the UK cons I've been too, all the agents have been very welcoming of pitches. (I haven't seen anyone follow them into the loo though...)

The ladies' loos incident happened at the York Festival of Writing, where there are one-on-one sessions running at all times. It makes it quite difficult giving talks, as the audience members keep leaving and arriving throughout.

rac
03-23-2014, 11:48 PM
Worse yet, some of these agents appeared to enjoy such sycophancy, actively.

The year before that, at another major west coast conference, I had the joy of "pitching" to an agent whose sole interest in being there was to pitch to aspiring writers that agency's own book on how to get published. That particular agency is still in business, and quite well-known.

I stopped going to conferences.

caw

It happens on the East Coast, too. There is a well-known East Coast agent who attends at least six conferences a year pitching his book on how to write bestsellers. Writers fawn over him and rush to buy his book, but the recipe must not work very well because they aren't producing bestseller after bestseller.

So...the aspiring authors pay for the conference and they pay for the book, and most of them leave the conference without an agent. If one were to view this with a cool eye, it would seem like the conference and the agent are the ones who are profiting.

On a similar thread months ago, Old Hack posted the following:

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.

rac
03-24-2014, 12:02 AM
Now I am dying to know if it was the agent/agency I am thinking of. Was it a west coast agent as well? (I'm one so I cross paths with most west coast agents!)

Pitch appointments are quite a mix of formats and results. I've done everything from 7.5 hours (over two days) of speed pitching, in which the bell rang every three minutes and the next person sat down (and yes I ran out of business cards), to 10 minute, pre-scheduled pitches for just an hour or two.

Many conferences offer both critique slots (you send in 2-10 pages in advance, then meet with the agent at the conference and discuss feedback) and pitch appointments. If you have the choice, i think the crit appointment is most valuable and useful and if the agent falls in love with the writing they'll just request it anyway.

I'm doing a conference soon that has this huge afternoon before it all kicks off called "Ask a Mentor" where the various faculty are assigned to tables and people can come in and sit down and just ask questions, which I think is brilliant!

I'll be honest, I have mixed feelings on the effectiveness of pitch appointments at conferences versus just querying an agent. At each conference there really is two or three that I leave the conference going, "Gosh I hope that one holds up! It sound slike it could be amazing!" And i eagelry anticipate it's arrival.

The problem is there are a few terrible ones (people who just have no idea what they wrote-- sometimes a person sits down and pitches me their YA novel about a "young doctor" or something, who is in their late 20s, and I dont even rep that adult stuff and they don't seem to know they didn't write a YA novel) but a WHOLE LOT in the middle, that I figure may be good or may be terrible and it's the writing that matters, and so I just request 5 or 10 pages.

But when people query me my instruction say to include 5 pages. (Which I do read if I'm on the fence)... so I'm basically just telling them to query me becuase an in-person pitch isn't enough for me to decide on a full manuscript.

At the same time, I actually do enjoy taking pitches becuase it allows me to meet so many attendees one on one and there really are some gems in the mix.

So, basically-- do the pitch appointments if it appeals to you. If it doesn't, attend the conference to learn and mingle and have fun, and query the agent later, saying "I attended your talk at X conference and liked what you said about Y...." and that'll help your query stand out.

Unless your writing is either absolutely awful or positively brilliant, a ten-minute critique slot for five-to-ten pages isn't enough time to give you more than surface criticism. You can write a great first chapter, and your novel can fall apart fifty pages later.

If you're going to the conference to meet and mingle with other writers, and to attend workshops and lectures run by proven teachers, then by all means go. But if you're attending in the hope of getting an agent, save your money, go on a nice vacation, and work hard on your query letter and your writing.

Mr Flibble
03-24-2014, 01:57 AM
The ladies' loos incident happened at the York Festival of Writing, where there are one-on-one sessions running at all times. It makes it quite difficult giving talks, as the audience members keep leaving and arriving throughout.


My word

I mean that's just not cricket, is it?

:D

Siri Kirpal
03-24-2014, 03:26 AM
Unless your writing is either absolutely awful or positively brilliant, a ten-minute critique slot for five-to-ten pages isn't enough time to give you more than surface criticism. You can write a great first chapter, and your novel can fall apart fifty pages later.

If you're going to the conference to meet and mingle with other writers, and to attend workshops and lectures run by proven teachers, then by all means go. But if you're attending in the hope of getting an agent, save your money, go on a nice vacation, and work hard on your query letter and your writing.

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

rac, just for the record, the lady you were responding to is an agent.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

rac
03-24-2014, 07:29 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

rac, just for the record, the lady you were responding to is an agent.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

My mistake! I was responding to what she said as it related to JoshSpaceCole's reason for attending a conference. It seemed to me to be more discouraging than encouraging. It is easier to tell someone to send five pages than to tell them to their face that you aren't interested in their work.

Siri Kirpal
03-24-2014, 09:55 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

All of the agents I've pitched to at a conference have asked for more materials than just the query and 5 pages. One of them told me she doesn't let her assistant read the materials sent as a result of the conference. And since my book has something the agent usually doesn't accept (but I proved to her that her reasons didn't apply in my case), the assistant would have sent an automatic rejection. So, I can't quite agree with the idea that pitching at conferences gets you nowhere you couldn't get just by querying cold.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

rac
03-25-2014, 01:47 AM
Unless your writing is either absolutely awful or positively brilliant, a ten-minute critique slot for five-to-ten pages isn't enough time to give you more than surface criticism. You can write a great first chapter, and your novel can fall apart fifty pages later.



A critique slot and/or session is different from a pitch session. At a critique session, which some conferences offer, an agent goes over ten pages of your work with you. If your first five-to-ten pages are terrific, the agent will want to see more. If your manuscript needs work, ten minutes can't begin to address it.

Agents are similar to editors in the respect that if you don't capture their interest in the first few pages, they move on to the next manuscript. They simply don't have time to read more. A well-crafted query letter can accomplish the same thing.

I hope your pitch is ultimately successful!

MandyHubbard
03-25-2014, 02:25 AM
Unless your writing is either absolutely awful or positively brilliant, a ten-minute critique slot for five-to-ten pages isn't enough time to give you more than surface criticism. You can write a great first chapter, and your novel can fall apart fifty pages later.

If you're going to the conference to meet and mingle with other writers, and to attend workshops and lectures run by proven teachers, then by all means go. But if you're attending in the hope of getting an agent, save your money, go on a nice vacation, and work hard on your query letter and your writing.

Well, I would say more than half the writers at conferences are pretty early in writing--many writing their first novels--and I've had quite a lot of constructive criticism to give during 10 or 15 minute meetings. I have it marked up in advance--and the mark up often takes me 30++ minutes as I line edit and type up notes to go with it and then discuss my feedback in person.

I've also done the cold-read critiques at SCBWI. i signed an author last spring after reading just two pages and requesting more. I sold the book to Knopf a month later.

I don't think anyone who knows what they are talkinga bout says to go to a conference SPECIFICALLY to sign an agent as a result. it's a combination of the classes, socialization, and a chance to connect with an agent or editor, not any one of those things.

And I also am an agent (and author) who absolutely believes that query letters work and that the cream rises to the top. The vast majority of my list is from cold-queries and I've sold 70% of my clients.

So yeah. Writers should do what is available to them (conferences, if they have the $$ and inclination) and both avenues are viable.

JoshSpaceCole
03-25-2014, 07:09 AM
All of you folks have been incredibly helpful and educational - thank you so much!

I'm excited for this conference either way... I've always wanted to go to one, no matter how it affects my career. I don't know that I expect a pitch session to turn my life around, but I know it'll be a good experience.

It's even possible that one of the agents reading my manuscript will bite before the event, so I might have entirely different goals by the time I get there...

Old Hack
03-25-2014, 11:17 AM
Well, I would say more than half the writers at conferences are pretty early in writing--many writing their first novels--and I've had quite a lot of constructive criticism to give during 10 or 15 minute meetings. I have it marked up in advance--and the mark up often takes me 30++ minutes as I line edit and type up notes to go with it and then discuss my feedback in person.

Writers often forget the preparation that goes into those critique sessions. It takes a lot of time to do it well.


I've also done the cold-read critiques at SCBWI. i signed an author last spring after reading just two pages and requesting more. I sold the book to Knopf a month later.

Wowsers. That sounds really risky to me. But well done!


The vast majority of my list is from cold-queries and I've sold 70% of my clients.

That's really good going. I've spoken with a lot of agents about this and most say they sell about half of the new clients they take on.

MandyHubbard
03-27-2014, 07:02 PM
Wowsers. That sounds really risky to me. But well done!



That's really good going. I've spoken with a lot of agents about this and most say they sell about half of the new clients they take on.

I kept re-reading your note about it being risky and I was like, "what part is risky?" and then realized the wording of my own post wasn't clear-- I read two pages, requested the full, read it, THEN Signed her. (I most definitely did not offer rep on two pages!)

Thanks for the kudos on the selling clients bit. Quite a number of them were not the book I signed them for, but a later book we worked on together (in the sense that I weighed in on their ideas, provided plot guidance, and editorial notes.). I find that as long as my clients keep writing, eventually we find projects that sell!

TerryRodgers
03-27-2014, 07:50 PM
I help organize and run PitchFest (formerly AgentFest) in NYC. We have, over the years, more now than past, tried to invite agents that meet certain criteria (i.e. verifiable recent sales on the ITW approved list, agent or agency member of AAR, etc.). I have a vast spreadsheet of hundreds of agents, and there are agents that are on the do not invite list due to various reasons as some here have mentioned.

Pitching is not easy. Many that attend don't do their homework. Worse, they sit down with an agent and don't know the novel they are pitching. I've listened to some that have no idea what an inciting incident is. It happens a lot. Why a writer would not spend the time to learn the craft of writing, including terminology, I have no idea.

We are making changes as we see the need. This year we are providing classes prior to PitchFest, hosted by agents, such as Mandy mentioned. I'm pushing to have even more next year. My goal is to have an entire day dedicated to Pitching/Querying with agents and editors sitting on panels, so that even if the aspiring writers don't find an agent at the conference, they will be better prepared on pitching/querying and hearing it face to face from the experts.

If you decide to pitch at a conference, know your novel inside an out. Create a pitch and memorize it. Relax and realize agents are looking for a great story. Pitch to them as if your story is the greatest they have ever heard. That means pitch with confidence, not arrogance. They are human (yes they really are) and should be treated with respect, just how you would expect to be treated. I have witnessed the bathroom pitches. It isn’t pretty.

Good luck and knock those pitches out of the park.

rac
03-30-2014, 09:25 PM
I help organize and run PitchFest (formerly AgentFest) in NYC. We have, over the years, more now than past, tried to invite agents that meet certain criteria (i.e. verifiable recent sales on the ITW approved list, agent or agency member of AAR, etc.). I have a vast spreadsheet of hundreds of agents, and there are agents that are on the do not invite list due to various reasons as some here have mentioned.

Pitching is not easy. Many that attend don't do their homework. Worse, they sit down with an agent and don't know the novel they are pitching. I've listened to some that have no idea what an inciting incident is. It happens a lot. Why a writer would not spend the time to learn the craft of writing, including terminology, I have no idea.

We are making changes as we see the need. This year we are providing classes prior to PitchFest, hosted by agents, such as Mandy mentioned. I'm pushing to have even more next year. My goal is to have an entire day dedicated to Pitching/Querying with agents and editors sitting on panels, so that even if the aspiring writers don't find an agent at the conference, they will be better prepared on pitching/querying and hearing it face to face from the experts.

If you decide to pitch at a conference, know your novel inside an out. Create a pitch and memorize it. Relax and realize agents are looking for a great story. Pitch to them as if your story is the greatest they have ever heard. That means pitch with confidence, not arrogance. They are human (yes they really are) and should be treated with respect, just how you would expect to be treated. I have witnessed the bathroom pitches. It isn’t pretty.

Good luck and knock those pitches out of the park.

Great post, Terry! Anyone who is planning to pitch at a conference this year needs to read it.

Mr Flibble
03-30-2014, 11:00 PM
I'm excited for this conference either way... I've always wanted to go to one, no matter how it affects my career.

I think this is the best attitude -- go because you expect to have fun and meet like minded people (and they ARE great fun) Anything else is a bonus.

Fizgig
03-31-2014, 12:26 AM
I just went to a pitch session out in San Fran yesterday morning and it was....interesting. I was in a similar position to the OP in that one of the agents there already had my partial. I made a point to meet with her and I'm VERY glad I did.

I think being able to put a face to a manuscript, and being able to see that I am a professional, rational person that they might enjoy working with was very beneficial. Because, while yes obviously they will never offer to rep you if you book isn't great, it is entirely possible that they really like your book but are on the fence and seeing that you are serious and personable might be an important factor.

In general, I expected to think the pitch sessions were a colossal waste of time but actually got very good feed back from the agents I spoke with, two of whom were extremely enthusiastic about my novel and asked me to send them a full asap. I'm quite surprised considering it was such a high stress, loud environment.

I also think it helped that I had such low expectations!

TerryRodgers
03-31-2014, 04:10 AM
In general, I expected to think the pitch sessions were a colossal waste of time but actually got very good feed back from the agents I spoke with, two of whom were extremely enthusiastic about my novel and asked me to send them a full asap. I'm quite surprised considering it was such a high stress, loud environment.

I also think it helped that I had such low expectations!

Glad to hear it went well. Pitch sessions can definitely be overwhelming. Sorry to keep referring to the one I help run, but hopefully this helps someone. PitchFest can be both exciting and nerve racking. Imagine having fifty-five agents, many at top houses, each sitting at a small table with two chairs. On the wall behind them, is a list of what they are currently looking for. Three hundred people line up outside the rooms, ready to put their query to work. In their hands is the same list, so they could do their homework. You've spent the time researching each agent and have created three lists (A, B, C) of the agents you plan to see. For the next three hours, you sit down with as many as half the 55 agents, telling your story with the hopes that each agent is intrigued. You finish PitchFest, being able to see all of your A list, most of your B list, and several of your C list, eighteen agents. Sixteen ask for partials or fulls.

Many of the people I know that have gotten agents at PitchFest had terrible results querying. The face to face that you mentioned seems to work for some.

I'm currently watching a show called Intelligence. Although this would be considered the extreme case, one of the creators of the show (his novel came out right before the show started), found his agent at PitchFest.

blacbird
03-31-2014, 06:06 AM
considering it was such a high stress, loud environment.

Not an environment in which I thrive, alas. I am completely intimidated in such circumstances. So, thriving in a high stress, loud environment is yet another skill set for a writer?

caw

Fizgig
03-31-2014, 07:22 PM
blacbird, I totally agree that it sucks. I went to the pitch session with a writer friend and, like you, she is not good at high stress nor crowds. She left feeling overwhelmed and like she didn't particularly come off well to agents since she was so stressed out.

She's concluded that she will just have to find other ways to meet agents. Certainly most people don't meet their agents at pitch sessions so I wouldn't stress out if that's not an avenue open to you!

Simon Gervais
05-05-2014, 07:17 AM
If you're interested, I wrote an article on how to approach a pitch session at a writers conference. I found my agent during the 2013 ThrillerFest's PitchFest (previously known as AgentFest). Click http://thrillerfest.com/the-trick-is-to-be-prepared/

ThrillerFest is a fantastic conference. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

Best,
Simon

popmuze
05-06-2014, 01:24 AM
I've heard of writers getting interest from an agent who'd previously rejected the same query. It probably never got past their assistant two years ago.

I would think any agent agreeing to go to a conference would be open to writers approaching them--within the bounds of decency, or within the bounds stipulated in the information about the conference.

TerryRodgers
05-07-2014, 11:14 PM
If you're interested, I wrote an article on how to approach a pitch session at a writers conference. I found my agent during the 2013 ThrillerFest's PitchFest (previously known as AgentFest). Click http://thrillerfest.com/the-trick-is-to-be-prepared/

ThrillerFest is a fantastic conference. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

Best,
Simon

Simon is the man. He pitched on a Thursday and signed on Saturday. And his novel sold recently. Congratulations, Simon.

Siri Kirpal
05-08-2014, 02:24 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Amazing story, Simon! Congrats!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Simon Gervais
05-08-2014, 04:20 AM
Thank you very much, Siri Kirpal. I posted the link to my article hoping it would help at least one author. My journey: Write,write,write+research+research+research= Success at PitchFest=agent=two-book deal.

Terry, thanks for the flowers but you and your team are doing a fantastic job. Your posts on this subject are dead on. Looking forward to seeing you at TFEST.

All my best,

JJ Litke
05-09-2014, 06:46 AM
Congrats, Simon, and thanks for posting that link.

This whole thread is depressing. I'm going to a conference at the end of June, and I'm more concerned than ever about the value of it. I hope to at least meet some other local writers in my genre, but I can't even be sure of that. And it sounds like the odds of catching an agent's interest are about the same as getting hit by lightning.

I guess it's nice to hear that querying can work as well. In a backhanded sort of way, considering that's not particularly easy either.

Jeez, why didn't I want to break into something easier, like being a llama jockey. That would sound cooler at parties, too. :)

Old Hack
05-09-2014, 10:20 AM
This whole thread is depressing. I'm going to a conference at the end of June, and I'm more concerned than ever about the value of it. I hope to at least meet some other local writers in my genre, but I can't even be sure of that. And it sounds like the odds of catching an agent's interest are about the same as getting hit by lightning.

In terms of finding representation, the best you'll probably get at a conference is the invitation to send your work into an agent. In other words, an invitation to query them. It doesn't really give you an advantage over other people who are querying them cold.

This doesn't mean conferences aren't worth going to: they can be brilliant. You can learn a huge amount at them: about writing, publishing, and submitting. And you'll network, and make friends, and it's a lovely thing to do for writers who usually have such an isolated professional life.


I guess it's nice to hear that querying can work as well. In a backhanded sort of way, considering that's not particularly easy either.

Querying is still the most effective way to find representation. It isn't easy to write a good query: but then it isn't easy to write a good novel either. We don't do this to have an easy life!

Medievalist
05-09-2014, 07:27 PM
This whole thread is depressing. I'm going to a conference at the end of June, and I'm more concerned than ever about the value of it. I hope to at least meet some other local writers in my genre, but I can't even be sure of that.

Picking the right conference for you is the key and it can be tricky.

What pitching at a conference gets you is an invitation to query, so it makes a great deal of since to really work on the query—do check out Query Letter Hell. You can't post your own query until you have 50 posts, but there's a lot to be said for reading others, and of course, reading the stickied posts.

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

JJ Litke
05-09-2014, 09:40 PM
This doesn't mean conferences aren't worth going to: they can be brilliant.


Picking the right conference for you is the key and it can be tricky.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant. I won't know until afterward if it was the right conference. It could be brilliant--or not, I won't know until the conference if all the substantial resources I'm devoting to it are worthwhile. But I guess if it isn't, then I'll learn something from that, too.

Medievalist, thanks for the faq link. I've read that, doing a lot of other research, too, and I should do some role play practicing like you do for job interviews.