Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Verbal Pitch to Agents

When I signed up for the conference not this weekend but NEXT weekend, I really thought I had all the time in the world. Months and months and months. I was nervous about the idea of a verbal pitch, but figured that was mostly because I hadn't even written my query letter yet. Well now I have. And the conference is in less than two weeks... (how did that happen?!) and one minute I'm pumped, the next minute I'm filled with regret for signing up. Sure agents are just people. But they're important people. The gatekeepers. So I'm still terrified.

After I catch up on the more pressing photo session edits, I'm going to really sit down and research the agent I'm pitching to, read a book in my genre by one of her clients, and figure out what exactly happens in this ten minute time slot. I'm hoping it will make me go into it more confident, but I'm horrible at job interviews (I literally get so nervous I say things that aren't true... not with the intention of lying, I just talk and talk until what I'm saying is no longer accurate. It's sad, really), so hopefully it will feel nothing like that.

Have you done a verbal pitch to an agent? Are you planning to soon? Advice?

And I must give big thanks to Deana Barnhart for sharing some of her resources to help me be better prepared! *UPDATE - GO TO DEANA'S BLOG TO SEE HER BIG NEWS!!!


  1. I hate verbal pitches too!!! It's so hard to sound poised but not scripted.

    I'd say the most important thing is your one sentence tagline. Even though you have ten minutes,this is what you should lead with and what will sell them. And, since you have ten minutes and only one agent to pitch to, then knowing what books they represent/like will help you write a tagline that's most likely to appeal to them.

    Also, wait a moment after saying the tagline to see their response and give them a chance to take over by asking questions, but be ready to go on if needed...maybe with the genre, subgenre and word count.

    Good Luck!

  2. Oh good, I really hope it helps! I think you are going to be great:) How could they not love you?!

  3. I've never pitched, but I've heard agents say that when the pitcher is nervous and flustered, it doesn't come off well with them. So my advice would be to act like you're telling a good friend about your book, rather than an agent.
    Good luck!

  4. I've verbally pitched a number of times to both agents and editors and here's my advice.

    1) Remember that this isn't your "only" shot. I think a lot of writers get caught up in, "this is my big break and if I blow this, I'll never get another chance...ever again...for the rest of my miserable life." You can still query to your heart's discontent. This is not your single, solitary opportunity.

    2) Breathe.

    3) While this may not be the only chance you ever get to pitch to an agent, it may be one of the few times you'll get to ask an agent a question, so if you've got one you're dying to have answered, ask it. Maybe they'll end up telling you that the market is glutted with 200,000 word dystopian epics about blind dwarves with spendaholic tendencies, or maybe you'll just learn something useful. Don't interrogate them, but I think asking for clarification is an opportunity that shouldn't be passed up.

    4) Remember that your goal is to network at a conference, not to sell your book.

    For the record, most of the time agents/editors agreed to read my manuscripts based on my pitches, BUT that's now how I landed either of my agents.

    Good luck and try to have some fun!

  5. I pitched at the DFW Conference three week ago and I wrote my pitch THE NIGHT BEFORE (thanks to some much needed help from my wife and daughter)! I'm glad I did it because now I have something to build on. :)

  6. I've never done it so I have no advice. Well, except breathe. I also squeeze my lips together when I start to babble :) good luck!

  7. I'm still too chicken to do this, plus I'm afraid my ADHD will kick in and I'll sound like an idiot. I prefer to query agents. I do know some agents do pitches but are closed to querying, so these are good choices if one wants to pitch.

    Good luck with yours!

  8. I'm freaking out too! Less than a week.

    I keep reminding myself that this will be a good learning experience. Yeah, it doesn't help too much yet. LOL.

  9. I've never given a verbal pitch before, but I would be SO nervous. I do much better on paper. If it were me, I'd write down what I wanted to say and then I'd rehearse in front of everyone and the mirror. I'm sure you will do GREAT. You've got the courage and that's 3/4 of the battle! Go get em!