Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writer's Conference and the Agent Pitch

I've always wanted to attend a conference and a real pitch session. As terrifying as they sound, I know it would be an invaluable learning experience.

In April I'll get my chance!

For Christmas, my wonderful hubby signed me up for the LDStorymakers Conference. As soon as I knew I was signed up, I got online to see what intensives and pitch sessions were available. They all filled up on day one! I was a bit sad about that, but decided to put my name on the waiting list for one of the agents that I think might "get" my YA novel Fade Into Me. Monday night I got the email that enough people had canceled and I was in if I still wanted it!

I shot off a quick email before going to bed saying I'd take it. Tuesday morning it sunk in.

What did I do?? FIM was complete, the first half really good, the middle not bad, but the last half is a disaster. The plot crumbles to mush and my characters develop multiple personalities. However, I do know how to fix it. You may remember me mentioning it in this month's IWSG post. I also noted that I was setting FIM aside to work on Search For Knowledge (Talia's sequel)--which I did. So yesterday I FREAKED out.

Fade Into Me wasn't ready to share with an agent if they wanted to look at it!

The adrenaline pushed me all day. I found two people ready and willing to read for me, and I worked through the first 125 pages of the manuscript. By the end of the day my house was still a mess and I didn't know what to cook for dinner, but I was confident that in two months I could have this ms rocking. That's a great feeling.

Today I want to share a great article with you that proves I put more pressure on myself than necessary.
7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor at a Conference by Writer's Digests very own Chuck Sambuchino.

According to this I have up to a year to submit the manuscript if the agent requests it. Plenty of time! No pressure at all!

Whatever.

If' I'm doing this I want to be ready now. Which  might be partly stupid, but it turns out I need the pressure of a deadline to get things done.

Do deadlines bring out the best in you, or are you disciplined enough to get it done on your own?

14 comments:

  1. Congratulations with your agent pitch! I also work better on a deadline. Maybe someday I will be disciplined enough to finish my edits on a timely manner...

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    1. :) If you figure out any tips let me know. I've tried creating my own deadlines, and it sort of works, but I always know I can change it.

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  2. A whole year! No pressure. You can do it, Charity.

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    1. Yes! Yes I can. Positive thinking has been working for me so far this year, so let's stick with it!

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  3. I've heard several agents say they only receive about 25- 40% of queries based on pitches from conferences. All those people filling pitch slots, half or more will not bother to folow up at all.

    I have to think it's because people are signing up to pitch when they aren't ready. I signed up for a pitch session and cancelled a few weeks prior to the conference. I was totally not ready.

    The best advice I have is to write a really tight, concise query letter first. You can even read aloud your query in a pitch, and in fact, some agents (like Janet Reid, check her blog) even prefer it. Condensing your story to a one or two line pitch is also really helpful, but you'll need to have that deeper understanding of how to explain the rest of the concept.

    Good luck!

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    1. One of the points in Chuck's article mentioned that it's completely okay to attend a pitch without a complete manuscript that's ready to pitch. He even suggested you could use the time to ask other questions about publishing, use it to get a query critique or first pages critique.

      I'm working on my query now and my 1-2 sentence pitch (will probably blog them in the next month for suggestions!) and I'll start practicing it out loud on my family and friends. Mostly I've started a mental training with myself to head off the nerves. My mantra? "It's just a conversation about something you love. No big deal. Prepare for it, and then enjoy the experience."

      Hopefully it'll sink in by the end of the two months. :)

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    2. I looked at the article too, it has some great suggestions. I like the idea about asking the agent more detailed questions, though I wonder whether that would vary by agent, at least in how responsive they would be to use the time for non-pitch stuff. It doesn't hurt to ask though.

      Good luck with the pitch and conference. I hope you meet new writing friends.

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    3. Thanks, me too! At least I'm more excited at this point than terrified. LOL. We'll see how long that lasts.

      I'm starting to read interviews the agent has done as well as the discussions with him on certain forums. Hopefully by the time I get there I'll have a better idea of who he is and what he will go for. Mostly I'm grateful for the experience. It will make me stronger regardless of the outcome.

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  4. Jim Butcher got his dream agent at a pitch session.

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    1. :) That's awesome. If only, right? At least we know it's a possibility.

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  5. You can do it Charity! You have a lovely hubby by the way.

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  6. I know how you feel. I registered for the RWA Spring Fling with an agent pitch and have a feeling I'm going to just stare at the unfortunate individual they pair me with. =)

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    1. LOL, go read that article. It made me feel so much better. According to that you don't even need a completed manuscript to get something productive out of the time you're paying for. Now I'm more excited than nervous. This morning I woke up practicing my elevator pitch as if I'd been dreaming about it.

      Good luck and keep us posted!

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  7. See, I told you to work on both ;).

    As for deadlines, when they get too close, I give up. Bravo for using the deadline to do the push you needed.

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