Monday, April 19, 2010

Agents and Editors and pitch sessions

I'm excited.  I have a pitch session on Saturday with an editor at a publishing house I'd LOVE to get in with.  Granted, these pitch sessions generally don't amount to much, but it is a one-on-one with an insider.  Better yet, she respresents my genre! There's a big plus.  My last pitch session I met an agent who didn't represent my genre, but she was very gracious and I found the experience to be very positive.  I did my homework, I was nervous, but it all went off pretty well.  I don't think I'll be as nervous this time, and I will spend some quality time preparing.

This was all sitting on my brain while I was relaxing this weekend (mandatory down time).  I flipped channels on the television and came across a movie where a librarian steals a manuscript from a dead author.  The manuscript was a thriller,  whodoneit murder mystery, and the librarian's secret ambition was to write historical romance.  I didn't watch the movie since, after about five or ten minutes, it seemed silly to me, and yet the premise stuck.  This is the kind of thing they teach you about at "writing school."  Give your protagonist an impossible situation. Her goals are diametrically opposed to the situation she finds herself in.  Does she give up her dream of writing historical romance and try to venture into something she knows nothing about - something that she finds ugly and distasteful (thinking up murders)?  Naturally, the agent that sold her stolen book had no interest in her historical romances.  She was more interested in a follow-on book, a sequel, which the protag was ill-equipped to write.  The protag got her foot in the door, which was her goal, but it was the wrong door.

Which brings me to my point:  know your genre.  Know your audience.  Know your stepping stones.  While it was nice that I got to pitch an agent previously, she was likely not interested in what I had since that wasn't what she represented.  It was good practice for me.  She DID recommend me to another agent before it was all said and done (and no, the other agent didn't sign me), so it was not a waste of time.  You might think she was just being polite, but there were others that pitched to her that day that she turned down flat or gave suggestions to that they weren't open to.  Point number 2:  Understand that they know what they're talking about and their suggestions, which might not be in line with your ideas, are meant to help you.  If you don't like them, it is your perogative to look elsewhere, but its worth considering - they know the business.  The agents and editors aren't there to soothe your ego, they're there to help you take the next step.  It's up to you to determine whether or not their suggestions are in line with your goals and NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY (every author will tell you that you need a thick skin and an open mind to succeed).  That being said, I haven't met an agent or editor that was personally snarky or rude.  They're always pleasant and polite, but they also recognize when someone ignores their expertise.  That's the point they stop offering their assistance, cuz hey, if you know better than they do, more power to you.

So wish me luck.  While I don't have inflated hopes, I'm excited to talk to someone who meets my query criteria!


  1. Actually, you stand a VERY good chance of getting a request for pages, unless you're totally out of the genre or are trying to pitch something they don't publish. That's why I love conferences. Any way to bypass the dreaded query is a good one.

    I'll be at a conference myself this weekend!

  2. Agreed, most often they do request pages as long as you seem reasonably comfortable with what you've got. And yes, anything to avoid a query letter!