Back to Hell, Seat 12A on the aisle

Following up on Miss Snark's post about pitching at conferences a Snarkling offers up this question:

What if you're in a group pitch situation? Like there's four other authors sitting there with you and the agent? I know that happens at RWA's national conference, and I'm curious as to how you would recommend we handle it in a group situation where everyone else is pitching.

This is Miss Snark's definition of absolute hell. There is just absolutely no way group pitches work. I've done it; I hate it; I refuse to ever do it again.

First, the poor authors are pitching their work in public. Talk about nerves. And Miss Snark has to be discuss their work in public: YUCK. This group pitch thing should be banned from the face of the earth.

If however, you find yourself embroiled in one here's my suggestion for strategy.

If you can, go last.
Let everyone else pitch and then YOU say: instead of pitching may I ask a question?

If the answer is yes, ask what attracted that agent to a book you know they sold.
It's IMPERATIVE you come to this meeting prepared. You can't just say "what do you like about a book you sold" because the information will be meaningless if you don't know the book.

If you don't know the name of a single book this agent or editor handled, then you sit there and keep your mouth shut. Just say "I'm here to listen and learn". If you don't know what they've sold, you are wasting your time pitching cause you don't know what they are looking for.

Group pitches are worthless other than for practice. If they're a mandatory part of the program, I don't let people pitch, I make them ask questions. I let them give me their pitch in writing but I can't stand seeing people so terrified. It makes me really really uncomfortable.


Caryn said...

I've pitched twice, once to an agent and once to an editor. They were both successful, but I think a large part of that is because both were so open and friendly, putting the pitchers :-) at ease right away. Works so much better for both involved, I think. I can't imagine a group appointment, though. Yuck. No wonder you don't do them.

quanty p biederman said...

I went to my first conference and had a group meeting with an agent and a private one with an editor. I had no idea how to pitch my novel, and the three women who went before me got shot down brutally. Before I finished stammering my first sentence, the agent abruptly announced to everyone my plot had been done to death already. Humiliated, I retreated to the elevator, where a very kind soul gave me some pointers on pitching my book (not nearly as pithy as those offered by Miss Snark). It got me through the meeting with the editor, who requested the entire manuscript. I saw the agent outside and mentioned the editor's request. The agent asked to see the manuscript too.

David Isaak said...

GROUP pitches?

I thought pitching was about as low as it got, and now I find out that people pitch in groups? I'm open-minded, but that's just sick.

In all seriousness, I didn't know such things existed. And I was happy in my ignorance.

Hey, I have a great idea for a reality effing TV show...!