Friday, June 17, 2011

Mass Pitching Your Project To Editors and Agents - Umm, I Don't Think So

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting yesterday. I am currently in San Diego at the Historical Novel Society Conference.

Now, on to the post.

I know as you look at this title, you would think I am talking about something I have mentioned time and time again here on the blog, emailing to multipe agents at the same time is a no, no. While this is true, this is not the focus for today.

I was talking to some writers last night over dinner and we were talking about why, too often, conferences don't yield very many signed authors for editors and agents. It all stems from the same concept of mailing projects to every agent and editor. Writers simply cannot pitch to any editor or agent that passes by.

Too often at conferences, I see writers make the circuit, moving from one agent and editor to the next, eventually pitching their stories to everyone. Their rationale, "we don't get this opportunity every day." Ah, this might seem like a reality, but we have several problems here.

First, writers DO have this chance daily. Editors and agents do have a submission process and you can submit projects to them. Yes, some editors don't take unagented projects, but I hate to break it to you, seeing them at a conference will likely be the same thing. No agent, no submit.

Secondly, and this is really the big one here. What is the difference between sending your manuscript out to every editor and agent you find online and pitching to every editor or agent you see at a conference? Sorry to break it to you, but there isn't a difference.

And for those of you at the Historical Novel Society Conference, I ask you to think about the same thing. Are you pitching to me because I am here, or because you write Historical Romance or Historical Women's Fiction.

See you all on Monday!



  1. It is true, mass pitching makes no sense. But you underestimate the relevance of your comments to those of us who are not insiders. The chances for ordinary writers to rub elbows with agents are few and very far between. What you know about publishing and writing--regardless of genre--is worth our time. As to the chances of getting the interest of an agent at one of these events, I agree with you, they are slim. All it does is to get the "requested material" to the assistant of the assistant. And still we toil. See you at the conference.

  2. Once (many years ago) I submitted to a very well-known agent. And waited, because I listened to the idea that it would be rude to submit to more than one agent at a time. Waited some more. Called her up. "Oh, I like your idea but I need to think some more on it."

    We had that conversation a few times over the months to come. Then I started getting her PA: "She's reassessing how many clients and projects she can handle in the year ahead. But I saw yours is on the top of the pile."

    A full year after I originally submitted, she called to say that regretfully she couldn't take me on. "That's okay," I told her. "I got tired of waiting and I signed with another agency last month."

    "It's not considered right for authors to submit to more than one agency at a time," she made sure to tell me sniffily before hanging up. So submit to as many as you like, is my advice. If agents were authors, they would!