Pitching to Agents

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

One of the reasons I had decided to go to the writer’s conference was to have the opportunity to pitch my manuscript to agents. The concept of pitching seemed exciting and like a wonderful opportunity when I signed up for the conference months ago. However, the closer the time for the conference, the more anxious I became.

I decided my best tactic was to practice and have a good pitch. For those of you not familiar with what I am talking about, the pitch needs to have a “hook”, something that makes a listener want to learn more. I was at first hesitant to practice my pitch on my fellow conference goers, but then I decided I had nothing to lose, would most likely not see many of them again, and practiced on everyone sitting next to me.  It got easier the more I practiced.

I was very nervous to actually meet an agent. They seemed almost like mythical beings to me who had the potential to play a large role in my life. However, during sessions with agents, especially the panel session designed to meet the fiction agents, I began to see them as people who just wanted to become lost in a good story.  This helped calm my nerves, though I still felt ill waiting in line to pitch to them.

Sunday morning was the day of the big pitch-a-thon. “Speed dating with agents” I think is what they called it. Whatever you want to call it, it was extremely nerve wracking. I soon realized as I entered the “pitch room” or the “Room of the Dons” as the conference so grandly called it, that the agents were truly nice people, hoping to find projects they were interested in.

The more agents I spoke with and pitched to, the more I relaxed and began to enjoy the experience. It also helped that I was receiving positive feedback on my manuscript. At any rate, by the time the hour was up, I was exhausted. I had had so much adrenaline running through me that I felt like I had just drunk three pots of coffee.

For anyone who is going to pitch to an agent, I would recommend a few things.  First, to help assuage the inevitable anxiety, try to prepare a good pitch before the conference. Practice it often and feel comfortable with it. Remember that you are an ambassador for your manuscript or project and you need to convey your enthusiasm and passion for it. Finally, no matter how good the pitch, the agents will then want to read your work and they will need to be hooked in again.

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