The Social Pitch
Yesterday I told you about that conference with roughly 50 pitch appointments. Well, what I didn’t tell you about were all of the authors who also pitched me in elevators, after panels, or at the cocktail reception. It never ended, and you know what, I hardly remember any of them. Except for two very nice men. Two guys I’m going to call John and Mike. John and Mike were not only active volunteers at the conference (they did that as a clever way to get to know the agents better), but they actually talked to me. At a conference of almost 300 attendees they were two of probably only five authors who made an effort to just have a conversation with me. Amazing, really, since I am a very clever and witty conversationalist 😉
Of all the pitches and of all the people, the two I remember most are John and Mike, and, when their material crosses my desk (whether now or five years from now), I’m going to remember them. They made themselves remarkable. How did they do it?
They bought me a drink. I know, I know, but I’m a sucker for a cocktail.
They wanted my honest opinion (and didn’t get mad when I gave it).
They could tell a joke. (Laughing is good.)
But most important, they just wanted to talk. They asked me how I felt about the conference, what my experience was, and questions about publishing as a whole. See, most agents and editors love their jobs and love to talk about nothing more. We go to conferences because we like sharing our insights into the industry, the market, and what’s what. And isn’t that information you want to know?
The one thing John and Mike didn’t do was line up to pitch. Yes, it’s true, I have had, more often than I wish to count, people literally form a line while I’m trying to enjoy my drink so that they can pitch. They don’t want to talk to me, they don’t want to join my conversation because it’s all about them (and really, we all know it should be all about me). Don’t do this! Whatever you do, do not do this! If you see a line forming, stop it. Save that agent. Buy her a drink and start a conversation with her and ask everyone else to join in. I can guarantee that you’ll always be remembered as her rescuer.
So, you’re asking, how do you go from this pleasant conversation to your pitch? You know what? You don’t. It’s not necessary. When time is up, things are winding down, or you’re ready to leave the agent to someone else, simply ask if it would be okay to submit to her and take a card. No need to pitch, because she’ll remember you. Leave the pitch for your letter.
If you don’t believe me, ask your fellow authors. I will bet that all will say the connections they made that are strongest were those made in social settings and those that didn’t have anything at all to do with a pitch.
Oh, one last thing. Thank you so, so much, John and Mike. You truly were the bright spot in a very, very long day.