Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why Conference Pitches Often Don't Get Agents/Editors Those Clients

It is conference time! You have registered for that conference and are all excited about going. Not only that, this is a chance for you to sit down, face to face with an editor or agent to pitch that story. You just feel that if they see your face, connect it to the story, you will be set and that contract is on its way to you.

Ahhh, but wait a minute. This might not be the best place for you. Let me explain.

Although I have signed authors from conferences, in many cases, the pitches I hear have me saying no before that person even left the table. You may be wondering why? If we hear the story and you have the chance to talk it out and skip the painful query letter and synopsis writing, you would think this would be the perfect situation. But when it comes down to it, the real reason the rejections will be coming your way is that you did not do your research. You were pitching a story that was going to be rejected, regardless of how much prep you put into the pitch.

Too many authors seem to believe if there is an editor or an agent there, they need to pitch their project. This is wrong. The research you theoretically would be doing before you send out a project via email is the same research you should be doing before you get that appointment with the editor or agent. Our names, bios, links to our websites and what we are looking for is ALWAYS in the conference information. READ IT! We reject your stories because you simply were pitching us a project we just aren't looking for.

I remember sitting at a pitch session where authors would simply line up for the panel of editors and agents sitting across the length of the ballroom. If there was an editor or agent with a small line, or with no one in line, the author just ran there and started pitching. They had no clue who this person was, or even what they wanted. This is not only wasting the time of the editor or agent, but it is also discouraging for you to hear "No" over and over again.

Now, let's take this to the next level. There are many authors who are pitching a story to that editor or agent BEFORE the story is even finished. Think about this... You wouldn't send that proposal out to the editor or agent if the story was not done. So why are you doing it here?

Oh, I know many of you say, "But this is a great opportunity!" To do what? To show the editors and agents that you are not professional? That you don't know the procedures for submissions? Probably not the smartest approach you could take.

Think of it this way. Those editors and agents are available 24/7/365 via email and their normal submission process. You can take the time to make sure that your stories are golden, that the query letters directly addresses what that editor or agent wants. Or, you can  blow that one chance with a pitch that is less than perfect, just because the person is there.

I would also add that too many of these writers, who are either unprepared, or who did not do their research, end up taking those pitch appointments away from people who could use the slot.

I love to meet with authors at conferences. I love listening to the stories and having the chance to ask questions after hearing the pitches. But I am also someone who is not going to have you send a project to me just because I don't want to tell you no to your face. I will say no right there and then.

So, do me a favor. Do your research. Pitch if you are ready. Pitch if the story is appropriate for that person. Pitch if you and your story are a right fit for that editor or agent. If not, take the time to network with other authors, take a couple of workshops or work on getting that story ready to send out. Your time will be better spent doing that.

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