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Let’s Talk About Pitches

wookiepitchesNot like that. I’m talking about writers pitching their manuscript to agents and editors at conferences.

Can I be frank? I hate these. HATE ‘EM. For me, the ability of an author to tell the story of their book is a wholly different animal than being able to actually write it. But Daphne, you ask, how is a verbal pitch any different than a query letter?

Well, for one thing, it’s verbal, which means you’re not reading your written words directly — which is a no-no in a pitch meeting. And many authors who may be very comfortable with the written words get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their face when asked to just talk about their book.

But more personally, in an exhaustive survey of my past experience with pitch meetings, I have discovered that I’ve rarely gotten anything more out of these meetings than I would have received if someone just handed me their query letter, and I sat there and read it. If I’m intrigued by the story they’re telling, and they tell it well, the most I’ll usually do is ask for the first three pages — which anyone who reads my website and follows my submission guidelines can do! It’s only very rarely that I ask them to send the first five chapters, and I never ask for a full manuscript on the basis of a pitch.

So I want to get your opinion on this: if you’re attending a conference, and you find out an agent who’s attending won’t be taking any pitch meetings, but WILL be doing a workshop, or a panel, what do you think?

I mean, if I had an hour of pitch meetings, that’s maybe 6 to 10 people I’m talking to. Whereas if I’m on a panel for that same amount of time, I could be speaking to dozens — maybe even hundreds. I would so much rather take an extra hour of questions from a room full of people than one-on-one meetings.

Not that I don’t want to meet you individually! I’d just rather do it with a beer in my hand in a more casual setting, when we’re talking about things that interest BOTH of us, and where, if I like what you have to say, I may ask for info about your book.

Your thoughts? Fellow agents — do you have anything to add?

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