Pitching to Agents – The Good and the Ugly

Creator to Seller

On May 29th I posted a piece entitled – Your First Writer’s Conference. https://acrackinthepavement.com/2018/05/29/your-first-writers-conference/

One of the subjects in that piece had to do with pitching. I gave a brief description what it was and what to look for. But if you had read that piece you may have noticed a bitter tone.

Allow me to explain.

Pitch 1

First of all if this is your first conferences pitching to an agent is a great experience. You are forced to push yourself and when you think about it, it’s an excellent way to step out of your comfort zone.

A writer surrounds themselves in a safe and perfect place. We come up with ideas and from there we create. Add a November rainy day, a cup of hot chocolate and before you now it you have what many would call a little slice of heaven.

Pitching places us in an uncomfortable situation. There is no safe place. We are challenged. We are nervous. Our minds are suddenly pushed to work in different ways.

We go from creator to seller and the person we are selling to has heard our skit a million times. Not an easy thing to do.

 

A Great Idea….kind of

On the surface pitching is a great idea. Like so many plans when they are first drawn up I’m sure the creators were certain they had a winner on their hands.

Last summer I pitched to three agents. They were kind, professional and courteous. As a first time author and this being my first pitch I am happy I had the experience. It placed me in uncharted waters.

But I doubt I will ever do it again.

 

The Mind of an Agent

Job InterviewI tried to place myself in the mind frame of the agent. But every time I did I couldn’t seem to shake one thing – Ten Minutes is not enough.

The agent may have a winner of their hands. The writer and their work may be as close to perfection they have seen in years but in that short amount of time it’s nearly impossible to get to know them or their work.

From my vantage point listening to pitch after pitch comes across as a bad version of speed dating. That’s assuming there’s a good version. I don’t know how long an agent sits but after a while it would seem like a blur.

 

The Pit and a Better Way

The writers had a sitting area they called the pit. The nervous energy I experienced was so thick I doubt a chainsaw could have dented it. I witnessed pitches being memorized, blank stares, pacing and nervous glances at their phones. For a brief moment I feared I was auditioning for a play on Broadway. On the other hand I love New York City so I guess it would have been worth it.

I stopped being nervous after my first pitch. I realized after the first one that there must be a better way.

In those ten minutes a writer only has six minutes, seven tops, to talk about their work. In the other three or four minutes there’s small talk, pleasantries an so on. We all want to do something that separates us from the pack but in those 200 seconds it’s almost impossible.

Check that: Impossible.  

 

Another Face

Pitch 3

All three agents asked for chapter samples but I felt their request had more to do with politeness than anything. Let’s face it, I was just another face and the chances of making a connection with me or my story was close to impossible.

In theory, pitching is a great idea. Unfortunately it begins and ends there.

Yes, there are success stories and they deserved to be told, but still, I can’t help but think that there must be a better way.

What that is I don’t know but I’m positive something else is out there. A system of sorts that creates a connection, a bond, between writer and agent.

That’s all we want.

In closing I do recommended that a writer just starting out, either with the craft or conference, to give pitching a try. It pushes you and like I said, it takes you out of your comfort zone.

But I wouldn’t break the bank. I did three and at $25 a pop that was way more than this starving artist could afford.

If this is your first conference make it a priority to meet people. Talk, listen and learn. That’s where the real bond is created.

4 thoughts on “Pitching to Agents – The Good and the Ugly

  1. That scenario sounds really stressful, especially as writers are not always great at talking face-to-face. I’m not sure what would work better. I can understand the short time limit when there are so many writers to see. It is important to be able to summarise your premise in a concise way that grabs attention. I like reading the ‘pitch war’ type posts online, I think those are quite a good alternative as they still have to be brief but writers have more time to consider their words.

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  2. I think it’s good to put yourself in a situation you are not comfortable in. I would suggest doing it once or twice just to get the experience. By having the proper mindset the stress will not be as bad. So much of this is practice.

    True, sometimes an agent and an author will connect, but for the most part it gives the author a chance to push themselves. Do it one time. But in my opinion, once is enough.

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