Writing Conference Pitches: Dos and Don’ts

Many writing conferences offer aspiring writers the opportunity to pitch agents and editors. These meetings can be a chance to get representation or even a book deal, and as a result can seem totally intimidating. But don’t get overwhelmed—follow these dos and don’ts to make the most of your face time with a publishing pro!

Do…research the person across the table. Spend time before the meeting checking out the agent or editor on their website and on social media so you know exactly what kind of project they’re looking for. Choosing the right person is the first step to finding a home for your book.

Don’t…pitch the wrong person. If you’re shopping a picture book and you’re at a romance writing conference, you probably aren’t going to find the right agent or editor for your manuscript. That being said, you can still sign up for a meeting. Instead of pitching your book, ask industry questions to learn more about the publishing biz.

Do…bring the correct materials. As you are researching, check to see which materials you should bring to your meeting. The conference should provide these details on their website. As a general rule, you don’t need hard copies of your full manuscript, but it’s a good idea to bring along business cards, a one-sheet/query letter, and/or a sample chapter.

Don’t…come with an unfinished project. If you’re pitching a manuscript, make sure it is complete, edited, and polished before you present it to an agent or editor. If they love your idea, they will want to see a full manuscript before they will move forward with your project.

Do…prep your elevator pitch. Most agent/editor meetings run between ten and fifteen minutes, which means you won’t have long to pitch your book. Make sure you practice your speech beforehand to make the best use of your time.

Don’t…monopolize the conversation. Although your time may be limited, avoid doing all the talking. Allow the agent or editor to give feedback and ask questions as you discuss your book.

Do…pitch with confidence. If you’ve properly prepped for your meeting, you can come to the table with your game face on. The best advice I can give is to be yourself and believe in your book—the rest will follow!

Don’t…be afraid to ask questions. An agent/author or editor/author relationship is both a business relationship and a friendship. Save a few minutes of your time to ask questions to get to know the person across from you better and see if you two could be a good fit. You want someone who will help you build your career and be a trusted cheerleader in your corner.

And last but not least, remember that while the pitch can seem scary, you’re still talking to a fellow book lover. That agent or editor may not fall in love with your book, but they are there to support you and give you a chance to move your craft to the next level. Good luck!

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