Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do I Take Those Open Pitch Appointments With Editors & Agents At Conferences

I love taking pitches at conferences. I think what I even enjoy more is people watching outside of the pitch rooms. Here I watch authors swarming the tables like vultures waiting for any scrap of a time popping up with any editor or agent just so they can get their work in front of someone. They have to. In their heads, this is the ONLY change to talk to a professional.

Well, we have two problems here.

Let's start with the first one and the easiest to answer. This is not your only chance. Agents are available 24/7 roughly 365 days out of the year for submissions. You really don't have to meet with us face to face. As far as the editors go, if they accept unsolicited manuscripts, they too are available all of the time. If it the solicited issue, then we need to look at the second, and probably the biggest problem with the scenario I started with.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Your story does not fit with every editor or agent. I am sorry to say this, but half of people you rushed to pitch to probably either A) don't take your  writing; or B) even if they did, the story might not be the right fit.

The issue is simple. Too often writers just grab any opening with any editor or agent without doing the appropriate amount of research. Grabbing that slot will not get you anything other than wasted time for both you and the professional as well as a rejection. And please, don't try the excuse, "you never know what they might take..." In all honest, most of the editors and agents are very explicit in all of their public information about what they like and don't like as well as what they rep and don't rep.

I honestly don't know how many times I turn away projects from writers who simply are pitching things I don't rep. It always leaves me questioning... "what part of Scott represents exclusively romance and women's fiction" or "Scott doesn't represent previously written material, poetry, non-fiction, memoirs, erotica, YA..." I think you get the idea.

I should also add that there is also a potential other negative side-effect here. Let's say you pitch to me and tell me you really want Greyhaus to represent you. Maybe I like the project. But then, I see you running around to every other agent out there saying the same thing. Essentially, I just got SPAMMED. Now, does this mean you shouldn't multi-submit. No, that is not the case. But if you are pitching to such a wide range of editors and/or agents, it starts to make us wonder if you really do know where your writing fits.

This post is especially important for anyone attending the upcoming Pacific Nortwest Writer's Conference in Seattle. They have set up several "Power Pitch" sessions that are pretty much a free-for-all for pitching. I certainly hope I hear some  great projects, but I do have to admit, I am betting I will be turning a lot of people away because I am not interested in their projects. So, as a reminder, here is what I represent:

Stories must be at least 75,000 words in length. The only exception are stories targeting Harlequin lines. Make sure your word count fits the exact line you are looking at.  If you are wishing to write for Harlequin, use that form, or make sure to mention the information in your query letter.

All of the descriptions below are focused mostly for the SINGLE TITLE authors, although the descriptions work well for the Harlequin lines too.

Writers who are currently at Harlequin and want to continue there and/or advance the career are in high demand here at Greyhaus.

Contemporary Romance - Real romances set in present day. I want the stories real and not manufactured. I want this just like our friends around us that fall in love. We don't need a psychotic past but something real. Especially looking for single title stories. These stories will have a powerful romance and something that the everyday person can relate to. In many ways, these are character driven stories that delve into what a true relationship is built on.

Inspirational Romance- I am willing to look at these stories but the stories are only targeting the Harlequin Love Inspired lines. I will not market inspirationals anywhere else. When it comes to these stories, I think you need to know where I am coming from. I am a big believer in Paul and the idea of "justifcation by faith." With this in mind, I am not a big fan of the stories where the characters are Bible quoting, being reminded of a particular verse, or praying over everything. I want to see the faith coming through in how they act and how they behave. REMEMBER, THIS IS ONLY FOR THE STEEPLE HILL LINES AT HARLEQUIN!

Women's Fiction - O.K. So apparently we have a little confusion out there regarding women's fiction. What I am looking for is a story that is character driven. I want a story about real people with real issues. The goal of this story is to simply follow the female journey and learn what it takes to be a female. The ultimate goal is to really allow the female reader to relate to the characters and be able to say, "hey, that happens to me." This should be powerful literature and I am not looking for a story that is simply lacking romance. Please focus on a single issue and don't wear the reader out with so many issues that it sounds like a soap opera. This is where the story needs to avoid being plot driven. If, for example, the story is about a woman learning how to work in a male driven profession, then show that. We don't need to add in illness, stalkers, deaths in the family and so on. Keep it focused.

Please also remember that women's fiction doesn't simply mean the protagonist is a female. the focus in the study of the female psyche.

Please also remember that just because there is no happily ever after, or that there is no romance DOES NOT make it women's fiction.

I am pretty specific on this one. Often times, think about the type of books that would be read in book clubs.

Historical Romance - I do have a great group of historical writers now so be warned that I am extra picky when it comes to new historical writers. I do not believe in having competing authors out there so please be prepared to bring something new and exciting to the table.. I would love to see historicals that demonstrate a strong knowledge of the time period you are writing. I don't want writers that have to rely on very basic source books or Wikipedia level knowledge of history.

Paranormal Romance - The paranormal element must be really strong and really take a central role in the story. This is part of the reason why the whole psychic thing really struggles. It tends to be used mostly used for fixing problems quickly or simply as a plot device. As far as my likes and dislikes, I am not a fan (right now) of the vamp and were stories. Along the same lines, angels and demons, tend to read as the same vamp and were stories just with different names. Impress me. If you are doing time travel, then make sure that the time travel plays a significant role and is believable.

Romantic suspense - If you want to submit, I want something different. You better do your research in this genre. Right now, everyone is doing the same thing. Impress me. Remember though, the romance must be the central theme. The characters should not have baggage and I want the story REAL. I want it believable. I want this border line thriller where we are really worried that the characters might not make it.

Harlequin Lines - I love working with the editors at Harlequin and the writers who love these lines. I am especially interested in writers who plan on writing for Harlequin for a while. If you think this is nothing more than a "training ground until you land the big deal" then I won't be able to help you. If you want to write for any of the Harlequin lines, you must:

a) Know the line you are targeting

b) Have at least one story in that line done

c) Have at least 2-3 more stories outlined and/or planned out for stories in that line.

Please also be aware that if I sign an author to market for a Harlequin line, we will ONLY submit that story to that house and if it is rejected, the contract will be over. Writers can have additional books in single title though.

I am especially looking for writers for the Mills and Boon lines!

I am acquiring for the Love Inspired!

I am not acquiring for Carina Press!


Stories may be linked but please, be able to pitch them as stand-alones.

Submissions after an established publisher has offered a contract. We might not be able to do much with the first one but subsequent deals with that publisher can certainly be entertained.


The following genres:

- Urban Fantasy

- Sci Fi

- Fantasy

- Inspirational (except for Love Inspired)

- Literary fiction

- Futuristc

- Erotica (although stories can be hot in any of the above


- Writers targeting e-pubs

- YA

- Movies ideas

- Novellas

- Poetry

- Non-fiction

- Memoirs

- Screenplays

I tend to pass on stories that have been previously published. This is especially the case of writers that have self-published.

I will not work with authors that want to strictly self-pub or e-pub.

I don't want stories that really fall in another genre. Just because it has a female in it doesn't make it "women's fiction."

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