We welcome back to the blog Shannon Messenger! She's got it goin' on, because well, just read what she has to say about pitching agents at a conference. Face-to-face. Yikes.
I went to my first writer’s conference in January, and because I was determined to walk away with as much feedback as possible, I signed up for five pitch sessions. FIVE. All to agents I was dreaming of querying in the near future. Yeah…it was terrifying.
I’ll end your suspense now and tell you that I ended up with page requests from 4 out of 5 of those pitches—believe me, no one was more surprised than me. And I really can’t take the credit. I did a lot of research before I prepared my pitch, and I found some pointers that were invaluable.
The first ones seem basic, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget them when you’re in the moment:
1) Always start by introducing yourself. Not only is it the polite thing to do, it helps you relax, and find your voice.
2) Smile. Most of us do not smile when we’re nervous. Try to find your smile.
3) Remember that the agent knows you’re nervous. Now, I can’t speak for all agents, but I can say that every agent I’ve met has been very nice. They know they intimidate us. So don’t freak out if your voice starts out squeaky or your first words come out like mush. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that they understand, and keep going.
As far as preparing your pitch, I followed these simple suggestions:
1) Keep it short. Just because you have ten minutes doesn’t mean you should talk for ten minutes. You want to give them time to ask questions. My pitch timed out around three minutes—and even though there was a big part of me that was panicking, wondering what would happen if they didn’t ask me any questions, let me put your mind at ease. They ALL asked questions.
2) Start with your title and main character. As fantastic as your plot may be, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens to your character. That’s what makes people care about your story. Sell them on your character.
3) Follow with two or three concise, captivating sentences and end on a cliffhanger. This is where you’re trying to catch their interest. Make it snappy. Push yourself to write some awesome sentences. And stop at a point that makes them have to know more.
Above all else, remember, you’re not there to get page requests (not saying they aren’t nice). You’re there to get honest feedback about your book so you can make the necessary adjustments before you query. Give the agents a chance to talk. I guarantee you’ll learn something. You may even meet your agent there. I did.
Shannon is represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She runs a popular blog you so should be following, or find her on twitter. She is amazing, and you'll wanna keep up with what she has going on.
Thanks for dropping by, Shannon!