Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pitching Is A Job Interview

I know, I always blog about this at least once a year, but we are now starting to think about major conferences and it is always a good reminder. This one, however, is going out to not just writers, but also editors and my fellow agents.

Getting to meet face-to-face at conferences is really a rare and, should be treasured, moment for writers, editors and agents. We have the chance to finally see each other as individuals and people and not simply looking at a piece of writing. With that said, far too many individuals blow this chance for this meeting. For some reason, people in the publishing industry (writers, editors and agents) seem to believe that this meeting is somehow different from any real job interview. This is far from the case and we need to make some changes.

Please come to the interview with your game face on and treat this like a serious job interview. You show up looking the part and acting the part.

I don't want to hear the excuse, "oh, I get sooo, nervous..." Give me a break. If you can't handle talking about something you know better than probably yourself, are you really ready to make this jump to professional writing?
  • Come prepared.
  • Make sure your project is ready to go at that exact moment.
  • Dress appropriately
  • Act appropriately
  • DO NOT read or memorize your pitch. This needs to be natural and not sound scripted.
I know you are trying to be nice and make these people feel relaxed, but in all honesty, do you really want to work with someone who doesn't even know their own story? Along the same lines, I know we are all in the same boat about the number of submissions we get. Why, can I ask you, would you ask to see something from either A) someone who you know will not cut it; or B) someone who has a project that you know really doesn't fit. Don't go giving me that whole "I have to read it first" stuff. We all know what we are looking for and we all know the premise of the story that will work and not work.

I have also talked to far too many authors that have said the same thing. They would rather hear us say, "no, it isn't right" then to hear, "send me a full" and then sit around and wait for the form letter, or in the case with some of you, stick with the "no answer is a no" response.

Maybe, just maybe, if we start to act in a more professional tone at these conferences, we can begin to elevate the level and quality of writing we are putting out there on the shelf. Who knows?

Just something to chew on for a Tuesday.



  1. This is good information. I guess there's always room for improvement on both sides.

    I'm intrigued by your comment about "elevating the quality" of what's out there. Maybe you could elaborate on that a bit in the future?

  2. It's nice to hear from the 'other side' of the publishing world. Unfortunately, there are lots of writers who think creativity precludes business.

    Thank goodness they can - and should - coexist.

    Thanks for the thoughts!

  3. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

  4. I completely agree with your post. Pitching is pitching, whether you're pitching a novel to an agent or a business idea to a venture capitalist. You need to be professional and know what you're selling right down to the bones. But don't be so hard on us, we are a shyer breed!