There have been a million blog posts and articles about how best to pitch to agents and network at a writers conference. While I’m not going to tell you to ignore all that advice (I’m sure some of it is good), I’m going to simplify it and show you how to have the greatest success and, hopefully, the most fun.
If you want to “pitch” to me at a conference the very best way to do that is not to pitch at all. Now certainly, if you have a pitch appointment I’m going to expect to hear some sort of pitch, but if you find yourself sitting down next to me at the bar, at the dinner table, or riding the elevator together don’t pitch me. Ever. Unless of course I ask about your book. Instead, just engage me.
Like most agents at a conference I’m open to queries which means you can pitch me anytime. Whether you query or pitch all that’s really going to matter is the book. If you want me to remember you and take a little extra time with your submission the best way to do that is make yourself memorable, interesting and likable. That means, just be you.
Rather than being made to feel like the sounding board for another author’s pitch, I’d rather have a real conversation. I’d love to talk about the weather, hear a funny story, or (and this is a really good one) answer questions you might have about the publishing industry. Agents spend a lot of time in small offices with little human interaction (sort of like authors) and we LOVE to talk about our passions. Our passions just happen to be our jobs and publishing. I for one love to give my insights and opinions on everything from the latest publishing dramas, trend alerts, what an agent meant when she said…, or even my opinion on how you might handle a more personal situation. Want to get me talking for hours (I’m warning you), talk to me about publishing. And then, later, when you query me I’m not just reading your pitch for a second time, I’m reminded of the lively and fun conversation I had over rubber chicken and cheap (but delicious) wine. I’m reminded how much I liked someone and would love to work with them.