Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pitching, Hooking, and all that Hype

I see massive amounts of advice on how to pitch, or hook, agents at writer conferences—some of it right on the mark and some of it not. This post contains some advice from me, an agent who has been on the receiving end of conference pitches. I’ve had writers sing their pitches and act them out; some come dressed for the occasion in formal evening gowns, and others wear jeans. At one conference, a lady in a top hat pitched me, and, although I don’t like hype, she definitely stood out. After a couple of hours of seeing a different face every fifteen minutes, all faces blend together unless the way they present themselves stands out. So the key is to make your approach to pitching your list of agents different, but not hyped. Below are some tips on helping an agent remember you:

(1) Summarize pitches into one hundred fantastic words. Make sure each word adequately relates the story you have written.

(2) Smile and be confident. Confidence is even more important than a prepared pitch.

(3) Don’t wait for agents to prompt you. Make every second count. Ten minutes might not sound like a long time--and it isn’t if you are engaged in conversation--but dead air can go on forever.

(4) Get your pitch over with and then get to know the agent. It’s a must that you like the person who might represent you.

(5) Don’t get so hung up in your presentation that you hog the pitch. Allow time for the agent to ask questions about your book.

(6) Always have a few pages you can leave with an agent—a few pages means no more than five —if allowed by the conference. Or not. You never know when an agent like me might break the rules just a little bit.

(7) If you don’t have business cards, get some.

(8) Make sure you leave every agent you pitch with SOMETHING, if it’s no more than a good impression.

(9) Do your research before the conference to make sure the agent you are pitching represents what you write. Don’t waste time and money on those who can easily be eliminated as a possible match for you and your work. Research=Dollars in Your Pocket.

(10) Always listen to what others say about the agents they have pitched. If you know agent’s temperament, you might tailor your pitch to suit that agent or decide that the agent may not be for you, saving you valuable time and effort.

Conferences are for networking, education and fun. Make sure you take advantage of all three!


Anne Jordan said...

I've always wondered how valuable conferences are. Are they worth attending, and do they really help a new writer get established? If your answer is yes, could you please tell me which conferences you recommend?

Note: I live in the wine country - north of San Francisco.

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