Monday, March 28, 2011

Tips for Agent Speed Dating

You have a limited amount of time to pitch your book. You need to make use of every second.
The pitch: use specifics. What sort of obstacles is the protagonist facing? Identify the genre and targeted age group (this will be useful to the agent to decide right away if it is what they are looking for). IF it makes your pitch stronger, compare it to something the agent will recognize (popular books or movies--don't use something obscure). Tell us a little about the protag and other main players (ie: love interest). What makes the protag unique and interesting?
One Liners: Also helpful in speed pitches, but get a good one line pitch in case you need to fire it off in the hallway or for some reason you're running out of time (don't pitch in the bathroom, the answer will be NO). One liners can consist of comparisons to books and movies, but no matter what it needs to get to the heart of your story, be unique, and be memorable.

The delivery: Don't read from paper. You should know your story well enough to give us the key points. (We do understand if you have to read from paper, but you'll come across stronger and more confident if you can do without). Eye contact. Speak up. It's usually very loud in speed pitching rooms. Make yourself heard (but don't shout).

Etc: Be prepared for whatever the agent might ask you including but not limited to: Who will this appeal to? Where will it sit on the shelf? What makes it unique? What writing experience do you have?

Giving us business cards isn't necessary and don't give us pieces of paper or anything else. We are either interested or we are not. And we'll be asking you to contact us with the asked-for materials. We have no need for your other material.

We're here to help. Make use of all your time. If you have a little extra time in your pitch session, ask us some questions. We'll happily give you advice on your pitch, other people you should contact/pitch, what you can do to fluff your bio.

Most importantly, be confident, have faith in your work, and convey your excitement. And have fun! We are just people, not scary at all. We want you to succeed.

Happy pitching!


Kristine Asselin said...

Oh my. This makes me nervous just reading it. Thank goodness I don't need to do worry about pitching live. :)

Is it nerve wracking at all on the agent side? Or are you cool and collected hearing the pitches?

Unknown said...

Ha ha, the first time I tried to pitch, it looked a lot like that scene from "A Christmas Story" when Santa asks Ralphie what he wants for Christmas and he just freezes. "Yeah. I want a football."

I like to think I write better than I speak.

Karen Baldwin said...

Great pointers I can use while I pitch at RWA Nationals this summer.

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

i am so excited to speed pitch at PNWA!! and by excited...i mean talking my sister's ear off and saying "would you read this???"

thanks for the tips!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

"I'll be back." A one-liner made famous by Arnold that expresses perfectly how I feel about your blog. C whut I did thar? :))

Heather said...

This is excellent advice! Thank you so much for the insider's view.

Julie said...

Thanks! This was helpful ( :

Julie Musil said...

Thanks for the valuable advice!

Vickie Motter said...

Kris, "Is it nerve wracking on the agent's side?" Not really. Every person who pitches us is an opportunity, and we're excited about each and every one. The first time I sat a pitching session, yes I was a little nervous and I umed and ahed a few times before finding my footing (that was at San Fran).

You also bring up a good point. Though you've bypassed the pitching, you might want to prepare yourself for what comes after. Every time someone asks "What is your book about," THAT'S a pitch. So writers, whether or not you plan to pitch in person to agents or editors, make sure you have a one line pitch ready. Just in case.

Bethany, I've seen a few people freeze during a pitch session too. Though now, I'll look at them and think of myself with a santa hat. I think I need evil elves to stand body guard around me.

Sonia G Medeiros said...

Such excellent advice!

Anonymous said...

Great advice. Hope you have fun. Wihs I could go.

Speed Dating Events said...

As it’s highly likely you are going to be sat behind a table during the Speed Dating event , concentrate on getting your body language right and start thinking from the waist up as only the upper part of your body is going to be visible and for a limited timeframe. Lean in towards your date to indicate you are interested in what is being said and maintain good eye contact
While listening. Never cross your arms unless you really want to put off your suitor. Sit upright – as well helping you concentrate on what is being said and projecting a clearer voice, you’ll appear more attractive and your cleavage/chest will be lifted substantially! Women -If you want to flirt, play with your hair a little. Chances are you’ll be doing this already if someone is attractive to you but don’t go overboard as you’re suitor will think you have a nervous tick. Men – cock your head to one side to show you are listening – women like a man who pays attention.