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The Sure Thing, Conference Tip #87

If you go to conference and pitch to an agent or editor, by all accounts you are a Sure Thing. Even if you go into your meeting, stutter uncontrollably, toss your cookies all over the table and you discover later you have a big blotch of lunch on the front of your blouse. You could even speak in tongues and still, most likely, get a request for a partial. That’s because an agent or editor has no way of knowing what your story is like without reading your manuscript. You might be the most socially challenged writer in the Western Hemisphere, yet write like Nora. They can’t tell that by your muttered and disjointed presentation.

All that ever counts in this business is what ends up on the pages.

Agents know this. Editors know this. But around conference time, it seems that writers tend to forget it. As long as your story fits in some vague way into their publishing parameters, they are going to want to see it. No editor wants to be the one who passed up the next Harry Potter or the DaVinci Code.

So take a deep breath. This is not life or death. Remember, you are a Sure Thing.

10 comments to “The Sure Thing, Conference Tip #87”

  1. Haven Rich
    July 5th, 2007 at 6:51 am · Link

    Elizabeth, I’m going to link this up to a group of mine. I think it’d be something they might like to read!

    Great post, as if I expect less.

  2. Diana Castilleja
    July 5th, 2007 at 8:12 am · Link

    What calming advice! And yes, given two seconds to think about, completely true! TY!

  3. Keira Soleore
    July 5th, 2007 at 8:06 pm · Link

    Elizabeth, what fabulous advice. I’m going to send a link to this post to others who I know are pitching and panicking.

    Commenting on your other posts that I’ve missed in the past few days…

  4. Gillian
    July 5th, 2007 at 10:22 pm · Link

    I have no pitching appointments, as I haven’t reached the formal “Pro” status yet, but this is still great to know. Between trying to figure out a “high concept” pitch and an “elevator” pitch and a “three minute” pitch, it’s nice to know editors and agents actually value the written word as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Keira Soleore
    July 5th, 2007 at 11:42 pm · Link

    Gillian: Good call on those various pitches. They always sound terrifying and binding to an aspiring writer, don’t they? The query letter should only say this and not that. The synopsis should not be more than five or ten pages long. The query letter should be single-spaced, etc. etc. Given this barrage of information and rules, it’s nice to know that editors and agents are also human and know how overwhelmed writers feel.

  6. Alice Audrey
    July 6th, 2007 at 12:51 pm · Link

    Sure it’s easy to get to the next level of the slush pile through an appointment. Yet over half of the people at a given group appointment will not have anything appropriate to offer. It may not matter if you stutter, but it helps to know what you are doing, and to have actually written something first.

  7. Keira Soleore
    July 7th, 2007 at 1:24 am · Link

    Alice, I’m amazed that all those people who reserve time to attend those group sessions don’t have a prepared pitch. This does beg the question: Why are they even there? Especially given that publisher spotlights provide up-to-date publisher information.

  8. Janelle
    July 13th, 2007 at 7:27 pm · Link

    I’m very happy that editors and agents aren’t superficial… can you imagine all the shit that would be published if only beautiful people had an opportunity?

  9. Santa
    July 19th, 2007 at 9:10 pm · Link

    Would that I read this before I went to Dallas but I have to say truer words were never spoken, er, written!

  10. Danielle Peck
    September 7th, 2008 at 3:28 pm · Link

    Thank you for this. I’m going to pitch at the Emerald City Writer’s conference next month and I was so nervous and really freaking out about it but now I feel much better. Jane Porter pointed me to this blog subject and I’m so glad she did ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks.


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