Attending a writer’s conference allows an opportunity to pitch with a literary agent. I say the odds in your favor of finding the perfect-fit agent at one of these sessions seem at a believable similar level to finding your soul mate on a blind date. However, there are huge boosts to your writing career development if you follow-through on at least one pitch session.
My first panic, I mean, pitch, session I prepared for by reducing my story to a summary brief enough that it should roll off my tongue in a well-connected manner. No force should be required as one sentence flows into another. Unfortunately, it was a bit bulky my first time around. I remember looking up and to the side as I read my mental script and was finally silenced with questions seeking clarification by the agent. Succeeding sessions, I maintained eye contact with simpler yet specific, to-the-point sentences. They allowed me time for periods; I didn’t need to rush through and the agent followed along giving slight nods or other indications they were on the same track as my train plot was rolling.
I had many scribble notes working up to that day, forcing myself to look at my story from several angles until the plot-line sounded formulaic. Life was meant to happen that way, nearly inevitable. For my more-veteran sessions, I wrote various copies, taped one up to review as I brushed my teeth, tucked a copy under my pillow which I read aloud before closing my eyes for the night (a task I lovingly follow because I remember the time when my mom recommended the technique to me when I was in primary education), and placed them where I could briefly glance them throughout the day. Versions varied in the writing so I could feel comfortable if I stumbled–fast recovery.
Also, you will need to get out that focusing lens–get your story down to its simplest genre, target audience, and why this book would be welcome in today’s world. Sometimes I had very little feedback, few questions, so this extra firepower in your armory will give you something to fill the time and power your pitch. You are prepared.
Devastatingly disappointing may be the results, but the agent may not allow you to experience them that day. If you stride in, smile beaming, opening up conversation (not just talking at but talking with) via a brief tidbit showing you know a little of their background–hobbies, personal life, where they traveled from (all this could be gleaned from recent tweets should they have a Twitter account or Facebook account) what titles they’ve recently released or had gleaming success from–and then stroll confidently along the words of your pitch, referencing you brought a brief synopsis along for them to keep if they would like, you are helping your chances. But speak with confidence. Should you falter, your work not being prepared as much as you thought it was, hesitating on loopholes most are too blind to see, then how can you expect them to believe in your work when you do not? Go in without a doubt. Breathe. And as long as you know the agent you picked is currently pursuing your genre, you’ll be requested to e-mail a partial or full submission. They need to know your writing after they see your passion. Six-to-eight weeks down the road (maybe shorter, maybe longer) the results should come, surprisingly not for the best. Showing your passion can refrain an agent from dismissing your work at the table. That would require them rejecting you face-to-face and they may not have the heart to do it. However, you’ve already won.
So this was a blind date and weeks later you’ve learned he/she is not the right agent for you, but you still have your pitch. The brief summary that flies from your mouth with ease will read off the screen with equal ease. Get on the computer, start generating and sending queries; agents galore are out there and you know what your story is about to a “T” now. The same confidence instilled preparing for your session will shine through your ensuing queries and each one is another blind date. But do not make yourself deaf and dumb as well; research the agents as you would if you were to pitch at a conference. Make sure they meet your standards and vice versa.
After the marathon of flexing muscles you may not have even known you had in prepping to pitch, you’ll have developed skills that will help you on the many paths that are expected to follow when it comes to talking about your book. If you are ready to market….