While doing the pitch critiques over the holidays I was asked if I thought agents had their own preferences for pitches or if the differences really came down to genre, and I’ll tell you right now that agents definitely have their own preferences. What might come across to me as a very exciting pitch might be a complete snooze to another agent. For example, I know there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve received a query I was so excited about that I shared it with my colleagues and neither of them got what I saw. In fact, just recently I received a query that I thought sounded so cute and great that I shared it with Kim and Jacky. Kim immediately responded to say she didn’t get it, in fact had no interest in the idea at all.
Reactions to pitches, like anything else, are subjective. By doing the pitch critiques I can’t guarantee that you’ll get a request from every agent you query. I can however give my opinion on what might make a stronger pitch and show you how agents look at pitches. We don’t just look to see what the story is about, but we do look at pitches to get a sense as to whether or not the story might work.
Also keep in mind that agents, like readers, can grab on to a pitch simply because of a personal preference. There are agents, for example, who just have a passion for vampires and might gravitate toward almost anything with vampires in it, while others have absolutely no interest in vampires and see that as an automatic rejection. If you haven’t already read through the pitches posted in my call for pitches on December 19 I would encourage you to do so. Reading through them will give you insight into what an agent sees in her in-box on a daily basis and might also make you see why we implore you to work so hard to write a strong pitch.