At some point in time, probably with the advent of the elevator, author’s have been taught that an elevator pitch is as necessary as a pen, vital to have should you ever meet an agent in the hallway, elevator, or (most likely) bar at a conference. You know, that 20 second pitch that tells an agent everything about your book and allows you to ask if you can send it?
Dump it. Dump the pitch and dump that entire line of thinking.
If I meet you while trying to nab the bartender’s (or cupcake baker’s) attention I don’t want a 20-second pitch and request to submit. I don’t want that anymore than I want to be ghosted after a first date. Approaching an agent that way is no better than a hit-and-run, a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, a, well, you get the hint.
An elevator pitch removes all the charm and personalization out of a meeting. I am not query manager. I am a person. A very conference weary person looking for a pick-me-up just like you. I just want a glass of wine, a sugar rush, and a pleasant conversation. I actually really like meeting new people, especially those who want to talk about my passion for publishing. And you know what, I’m not alone. There are a lot of agents who love to talk about publishing with authors.
When you meet me at the bar, and suddenly realize you’re talking to me, have a normal conversation like you would anyone else at the conference. Ask me how my day is going, if I’m enjoying Seattle/Toronto/Bethesda, or what cupcake I’m ordering. Then, when we’ve made small talk and discovered we’re both from small towns in the Midwest, ask me for my card. Later, when you query (because I’m open to all queries) you have something more to say than I pitched you in an elevator. We’ve made a connection that I enjoyed. Maybe we even shared a cupcake.