Ah, pitch sessions. You register for a writers’ conference and spend an extra $25 for ten minutes of an agent’s time. You prep a verbal speech to describe your book. You practice in front of a mirror. You research the agent you get and you stress over the timeslot you’re given—too early, where they won’t remember you? Too late, where they’ll be tired and crabby? But you’re ready. You’ve done your deep breathing. You’re looking good. You walk in the door, manage a firm handshake w/ lots of eye contact.
Then they say, “Tell me about your book.”
Your thirteen-year-old self, hidden in all of her pimply, dorky glory, is suddenly running the show. How did that happen? You thought you killed off that insecure dweeb years ago. But, no–there she is– 13-year-old you, verbally vomiting on the agent, the words spewing over Ms. Agent’s neat suit. My God, you’re talking at the speed of sound. Maybe your voice cracks. Maybe you actually DO vomit. Some people have. I hear it’s not as uncommon as you think. But you soldier on. Hopefully you don’t have a heart condition, because frankly – the agent pitch is more stressful than a cardiologist’s stress test.
Somehow you muddle through. The agent asks you some questions. The blood rushing through your head is so loud you can barely hear them, but you answer anyway. Then they say, “Tell you what – why don’t you go ahead and send me some pages?”
Wow. There it is, right? You thought you sucked, and yet you still managed to get a positive response from a real live agent. You’re on top of the world. You KNEW you could win them over with your charming repartee. And people said this was hard? You should just forget about querying via email and do it ALL in pitch sessions. You leave the room, able to breath again and bouncing on the clouds. That was the best $25 you ever spent.
Then you find out at lunch that unless you actually DID vomit on them, they pretty much told everyone the same thing. Oh, well. If nothing else, you can now put “Requested Materials” in the subject line. That will get Ms. Agent to notice your query in the sea of cold-queries. Still worth the $25. Right?