AgentFest. It’s exciting. It’s intimidating. There are long lines. And then there’s that two minute rush of pitching an agent. All the preparation? Definitely worth every minute.
This was my first year at ThrillerFest/CraftFest/AgentFest as I mentioned in my prior blog entry. The information on the website about pitching is very good. The “pitch” panel was also helpful but covered a lot of the same material. During and after the panel, there were individual consultations available but people stood in line for a very long time. One gentleman I spoke with stood in line, left to attend two different panels and then came back. Only one person had moved ahead of him. He finally talked to someone after 3 hours. He felt it improved his pitch. I didn’t wait, choosing to spend my time on further research on the internet regarding who the agents were, who their clients were and whether they might be interested in what I had written.
I also reviewed the list of authors for each agent and looked at the description of the books so that I could answer where on the bookshelf might novel would fit. That information helped me in two of the pitches where I was asked exactly that question.
In one of the earlier craft sessions, I met a writer and we talked about strategy. I had already started my list of most likely candidates and prioritized them. This writer talked about beginning with a couple of the agents that she wanted to pitch to before pitching the agent that she thought was the best fit. The thought was to use the first pitches to ease the nerves a bit. I adopted that same strategy and it made a difference since I was more polished by the second and third pitch.
The agents were great. Most kept to a two – three minute pitch time frame so that the lines moved fairly quickly. I was able to pitch to nine agents in about three hours (there was a 2 ½ hour initial session and then a 1 hour session where there were less agents). After three hours I had moved through my list. My last line moved very slowly (about 30 minutes in line) but I made some friends as we compared notes – helped pass the time and made some new friends. There were others on a similar track as to number of pitches and some that got to see about half that number of agents. I think some of it was luck with the lines, some of it was what the particular agents wanted and a large part was preparation.
There were varying results. Some people had a 50% rate as to requests for first pages from the agents they pitched. One gentleman had a request for full manuscript from more than one agent. The requests were anything from two strong scenes to first 10-15 pages to 50 pages to full manuscripts. My results? Eight of the nine asked for everything from first pages to one full manuscript. The agent that turned me down had an author that wrote something too similar to mine. I hadn’t realized that in my review – the protagonists are very different but have a characteristic that is too close. I plan to read one of the books and make sure I can differentiate from this story line. While I was turned down, I felt I received some valuable information and possibly a new author to read. Overall, I was very pleased with the requests and felt it well worth the time, money and energy.
So on to the next step – sending out responses to the requests. How about you? Have you been to AgentFest? Did you have good results or have a success story to share from this or other pitch session?