Not the thumbscrews!

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Writer meeting agent

Hello gang, remember me?

It’s been almost two months since my last post, due to an unfortunate boatload of Crazy that beached at my door. Not only has it kept me from this fine endeavour, it has also entirely scuppered my New Year’s resolution of writing every day.

Ah well, c’est la vie I suppose. Anyway, back now and I have some exciting news.

Thanks to the wonderful crew at Authoright I have secured a 15-minute slot to pitch my first novel to a literary agent at the London Book Fair!!

I am extremely excited.

And not a little terrified.

A real-life fire-breathing literary agent, with the terrible fangs and horns and everything.

What on Earth am I going to say?? 15 minutes? I can barely talk about the book for 15 seconds without tripping over my own syntax. And that’s when I’m not quaking in fear at the potentially life-changing opportunity sitting before me mopping my fetid sweat off their desk with a fine damask handkerchief.

Being the well-versed bunch that you are, I’m sure you must have some tips to impart on… well… anything about what to say in a pitch! Anyone??

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16 thoughts on “Not the thumbscrews!

  1. Glad you’re back – I’ve never done a pitch for anything, but would say it seems best to be yourself and let the passion you have for your work carry you through. There – tips from someone who would be as terrified as you describe at the prospect. Good luck, by the way.

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  2. Maybe it would help if you write out a potential dialogue that could happen between you and the agent. Almost like practicing questions for an interview. That way you can memorize key points and have a bank of things to resort to during the pitch. Congrats.

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  3. Love the phrase ‘boatload of Crazy’. Must plagarise that one! I know what it’s like not blogging for ages, but you’ll get back into it. Ditto writing every day. You do the best you can (forcing yourself now and then). Having the opportunity to pitch to an agent and have 15 minutes (as opposed to 15 seconds) to do so is something you should grab by the proverbials.

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  4. I’d go into it remembering that the agent is just a person like you, who (hopefully) loves what they do and approaches their job with positivity. As for what to say, if you haven’t written a query letter that you might email out yet, I would, and take your speaking points from there. No doubt the agent will ask you questions too, it won’t be 15 minutes of you talking on and on. Congratulations and good luck!

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  5. First of all, breathe.
    Second, practice. Work on what we call an “elevator pitch”…you know, something you can deliver in about the time it takes for an elevator ride (in a normal sized building!) Work it, practice it, hone it, memorize it. You want a quick, punchy pitch that hits the high points of the plot, and why you’re the perfect person to write it. Toot that horn! When you have that down pat, you can stumble all you want, still deliver the goods, and probably have ten minutes to spare.
    Third, plan for the ten minutes to spare. Be prepared to talk about you as much as about the book. An agent–a good agent–will be looking at you as a partner, not just as a commodity, so be prepared to show your commitment to the process, the industry, and a career as a writer.
    Fourth, remember that the agent is also auditioning for _your_ business. This will (hopefully) be a long business relationship, so if the agent makes your hackles rise or if you think she’s just looking to make a quick buck or if he’s just totally checked out and disinterested, take note. A bad writer/agent relationship is worse than none. You may be asked what _you_ want from an agent, so think about that beforehand. Have a Plan A and a Plan B answer ready.
    Fifth, remember the cardinal rule of writing: money flows _towards_ the writer.
    Sixth, enjoy the experience.
    Seventh, report back. We’re all on tenterhooks already!
    Bon chance.

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  6. Firstly, congratulations! That’s an awesome opportunity to land. Wishing you all the luck with it! 🙂

    Secondly, I haven’t had the privilege of pitching anything to anyone yet, but I have taught a couple seminars on demo teams. It’s not even remotely the same except for maybe the fear of speaking to people part. But I did learn a few valuable tricks that may come in handy for this as well.

    1) Definitely make sure you write out your answers to the potential questions and then rehearse the heck out of them. If you know your material inside and out, you’ll be better able to handle any curve ball questions they may ask you as well as sounding more confident all around.

    2) Don’t rely on written notes. I’m not sure if you can even have notes at a meeting like this, as I would assume it’s more like an interview than a lecture. But anyway, it’s harder to connect with people when you’re staring at a piece of paper the whole time, and it makes you look unsure.

    3) Be yourself. This was the biggest one for me, because in verbal form, I’m a royal goober. I stumble over my words and have a hard time sounding like a coherent human. But somehow, people like it. So even if you feel like a complete ass who’s butchering your message, your audience (in this case, the agent) might just think you’re a real person and identify with you. Plus it’s easier to form a relationship when you’re genuine with someone. Let your passion for your book show and your personality will do the rest. If you’re anything like you are on this blog when you’re in person, then I don’t think you have much to worry about. 🙂

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    • That’s fabulous Kisa, really good advice, thank you so much. Definitely taking that on board. And thanks for the compliment at the end as well *blush* – I’m actually a passive-aggressive sociopath in real life, I just hide it well on the blog 😉

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      • You definitely do a good job of hiding that side; I never would have guessed! Probably best to keep that under wraps when you meet the agent though, just in case passive-aggressive sociopath isn’t their cup of tea. 😉

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