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An Agent’s Opinion on Pitch Appointments

As always I thank the reader who sends me questions. Have you noticed a long lull in my writing lately? It’s because I think I’ve run out of things to say. Oh, and because my clients have been busy little writing bees.

Recently though I got a little help when a reader asked this:

What is your opinion of conference editor/agent pitches? Is there an advantage to pitching that regular submission doesn’t have? I realise you can put ‘requested’ in the subject line when you submit, but does that really do anything?

When it comes to pitches I think there’s a perceived advantage, but, in most cases, no actual advantage. Many agents and editors will admit (at least to each other) that they simply request everything that’s pitched to them because its too uncomfortable to say no. Hence the perceived advantage. In truth, I would guess the same amount of material is seriously considered whether it’s pitched verbally or queried over email.

The one big advantage you often have from a pitch is making yourself memorable (which isn’t always an advantage). In the end though, its the hook, the writing and the marketability that are going to land you an agent no matter how you first meet her.

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6 comments

    1. Sasha, I don’t honestly know if that’s true or not. I don’t track my pitch submissions that well. In other words, I don’t record what I request and check it off as it comes in. I do think there are a lot of people who never submit. It just came up at a BookEnds meeting that most of us haven’t received the material we requested from RWA. I always wonder why that is. Did they find another agent? Decide to self-publish? or just freak out and not send?

  1. I find this heartening since I doubt I’ll ever make it to a conference to pitch anything. It’s a relief to know that querying is just as effective–assuming the project is ready for prime time.

  2. The one big advantage you often have from a pitch is making yourself memorable (which isn’t always an advantage). Ugh, I hope I’ve been memorable in a good way when I’ve pitched in the past.

    I’ve both submitted and not submitted following pitches. The ‘not submitted’ has been for various reasons, including:
    * I felt the agent didn’t really want it. She’d said the setting was all wrong and asked for the partial ‘I guess you can send me 3 chaps’. I want an agent who believes in my story and I didn’t feel she did. Reading JFs post I guess she was in the ‘request everything’ camp.
    * Life threw a curveball and the day after conference we found we had to move half way across the country. With all that entailed it was many months later before life settled enough to think about my writing. I worried too much time had passed since the request to send.

    If there really is not much difference between pitching and the normal submission process I’m not sure I will pitch in the future. I find it stressful, I hate missing workshops (because pitches are scheduled during sessions) and I speak really fast, even more so when nervous or excited (and I’m both when I pitch ’cause I’m also excited about my book), so I’m sure I overwhelm eds/agents sometimes – which might slide into the ‘making me memorable for the wrong reasons’ camp.

    Thanks for posting, Jessica.

  3. My opinion is that maybe eighty percent of the offers to the pitchee for partials are simply out of courtesy. Granted, it’s tough sitting there as an agent and focusing every ten minutes on a different personality and maybe or maybe not something worth reading. But I think most agents realize that the writer in front of them has made an even greater effort, both monetarily to attend a conference, say, on the opposite coast, and psychologically/emotionally to pitch their work. So it’s natural that agents will offer something in return as a courtesy. I would. But it’s also possible that writers are beginning to realize this and have a sense of whether or not the agent is requesting their first fifty pages as a pro forma courtesy. A tip: If the agent apologizes that he or she is ‘unfortunately all out of business cards’ as the session wraps up, then you might head to the bar and be thankful you didn’t schedule TWO sessions:)

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