Group appointments at conferences

Homage to Miss. Snark and her fearless K-9 Killer

An author with several books in print but no agent, (Not self published) I've signed up for a “Group Appointment” offered by a wonderful agency at a smallish Readers and Writers event. I have no idea what a group appointment is. Or what those attending should or should not bring. Could you explain? Would it be unforgivable Nitwit behavior to email the agent and ask?
Perplexed and suspects idiot move if left to own devises

Every agent runs group appointments their own way. I don't ask for pitching cause it's just too dreadful to humiliate an author by asking them to pitch in front of total strangers.

I use the time to answer questions. Some people will ask 'do you want to read my work' and I always ask them to query. Even if they aren't mortified by asking to pitch in a group, the OTHER people will be uncomfortable and it's not in my best interest to have people associate meeting me with "not fun".

Do NOT email the agent to ask. I wait till the actual conference to see what people want and it depends on the makeup and size of the group.

Just attend. Prepare some questions for the agent. Be prepared to talk about your work persuasively in case the agent does want to hear a pitch.

There's a lot in the Snarkives about conferences, dive in.


Anonymous said...

Dear Your Snarkiness,

Speaking of conferences, just wondering if by any chance you'll be in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks? (Rhetorical question; I know you won't cop to it.)

Anonymous said...

I've attended group agent appointments in the past. It can be a great environment for you to impress with an intelligent question through which all can learn. Stay professional by keeping it brief. And, by all means, don't kiss up and brag about your accomplishments (the crowd will silently or audibly groan). In your follow-up query to the agent after the meeting, be sure reference the question you asked and include a remark about her unbelievably insightful answer!

Good luck!

Christine Fletcher said...

I've attended a couple of group appointments with agents. Pitches are awful, as MS says. But that's what we were told to expect and what everyone had prepared for. So when one agent asked for questions instead, the ten of us just sat staring at him like he had the power to cure leprosy and we were forbidden to ask.

Listen to the Snark, for she is wise.

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a fabulous Easter holiday!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about this topic just yesterday. Why are group appointments even done? They don't seem to be in the interest of the author. A group dynamic is created that is the polar opposite of trying to make a connection individually.

I imagine they are done to save time for the agent? I'm not worried about speaking in front of a group, but I'd be a little worried about my ideas being taken.

Anonymous said...

I've done several group appointments in past years, because I want to educate myself about publishing, and my manuscript isn't ready to pitch. My local writers organization has been very clear that group appointments are general Q&A sessions with an agent, NOT pitches (no other writers want to hear your pitch). I have a collection of business cards now from agents who ran group sessions. When I'm ready to query, they'll be the top of my list because I can open a query letter with "I met you at the writer's conference in Boringville in 2004." Miss Snark is right... prepare your questions ahead of time, take a lot of notes, and don't even think about pitching (i.e. don't be a nitwit).

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who doesn't like group appointments because you're worried that your ideas will be taken: don't worry. I can almost guarantee you that your precious ideas won't be.

It's hard to pull off any idea when you're actually writing, even if you think the initial idea is brilliant. In hindsight, coming up with an idea is one of the easiest things about writing a novel. Execution is key.

Anonymous said...

I've been in a group pitch session. The agent was lovely; all the sessions she contributed to the conference were useful.
In registering for the conference we indicated our interest in pitching. When we arrived we found our names on group lists.
It gave me pause. I certainly looked closely at who I was in with!
I pitched anyway and got a 'send'(rejected since) But it must have been hideous for the one woman in the group who got a 'don't send'. I understood the agent's explanation of why, but I don't think the pitcher did. Who could blame her - I'm not sure I'd be thinking straight under those humiliating circumstances.
Definitely not a situation I'd recommend.

kris said...

Your "about" text might be better than any blog entry I've read this month. Cheers to that.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add to my previous post that I'm not faulting the agent for rejecting that pitch in the group. I'm sure it would have been easier for her to accept the submission, and reject it later with a form letter. At least she tried to give the writer a reason.

I don't think the agent went home with fond memories of group pitches, either.

Anonymous said...

I've been to a couple of these. Several agents have actually invited pitches from everyone round the table. The results were roughly half "send", half "not my thing." At one of these where all us wannabe's asked intelligent questions, the agent interrupted the flow with, "What's the matter with you all. I'm here. Pitch me. That's why you're here." So...I guess we need to be ready. gjb