- Research the agents. Several agents will be available at the Pitch Slam. Be sure to study their bios on this website before making your selection. Each agent taking part in the Slam is listed on our agents page, along with the particular genres he or she is interested in receiving.
- Practice your pitch before the conference. You will have ten minutes alone with one agent to pitch your work. Besides developing a 30-second pitch (or “elevator speech”) to share with the agent, practice delivering a short synopsis of the plot. Write it down and then practice delivering it until it is fluid and strong.
- Don’t be nervous. Agents are just people. They are looking for the right manuscript to fit their needs as much as you are looking to sell yours.
- Get expert pitching advice. Research online and learn what experts have to say about crafting your pitch.
After last year’s conference, we asked the agents who participated to provide us with feedback. Here are their responses.
Question: What can attendees do to best utilize their 10 minutes with you? How can they best prepare and what would you like them to bring with them?
Sara Sciuto (Full Circle Literary)
Keep your pitch brief, under two minutes if you can. Just give me the genre and a short description of your book–I’ll ask specific questions if I need more information. This way we’ll have plenty of time to discuss your project and for me to give you thoughtful feedback. This is also the time to ask me specific questions or concerns you may have about your project and get a professional opinion. The least effective pitch sessions are when authors spend almost the full allotted time relaying the synopsis and character descriptions, leaving little or no time for discussion (a waste of your session!)–also, this is too much information for me to critique in eight minutes anyway. You can make the most of your pitch session by keeping your pitch brief and general so there’s plenty of time for big-picture feedback, discussion and specific questions.
Angela Rinaldi (Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency)
If they could have their pitches worked out in advance including the genre they are writing in, it would be appreciated.
Greg Johnson (President, WordServe Literary Group)
They need to relax. A one sheet or the first 10 pages of a proposal is always good. If it’s a novel, then the first few pages is something I’ll want to read. Just something for me to read and respond to fairly quickly.
Taylor Martindale (Full Circle Literary)
The best way to utilize these pitch sessions, in my opinion, is for attendees to have about a paragraph or two description of their work — or the query letter — to either read or memorize for their pitch. Some agents/editors strongly believe that authors should not read, but make eye contact in their pitch session; I personally don’t have a preference, only that the author feel comfortable talking about their work. When pitching, the description of the work should not be a synopsis, but much more like the query, giving me an overall picture of what your project is like, the general plot arc, how it’s interesting and unique, and what elements are going to catch my interest in particular. Authors should also give a little information about themselves — for example, if they’ve been previously published, writing awards, etc. Also, be prepared to answer any questions we may have about the project. More than anything, don’t let nerves get in the way of your pitch! We’re there to listen to your promising concepts, and we’re looking to fall in love.