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Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:39 am
by Brian

Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:39 am
by Brian
In every issue in "Writer's Digest"'s InkWell section, we pose a thought-provoking question related to the writing life. In the February issue, Susan Breen examines pitch slam conferences and provides some questions to ask yourself before you sign up for one:
http://www.writersdigest.com/articles/b ... kpitch.asp

Do you have a pitch conference success story--or horror story--to share?

To be part of our monthly Conversation, post your response here by hitting the "reply" button. A few responses may be selected to run in a future "WD" e-newsletter.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:51 am
by drwasy

I went to my first ever writing conference this past June (Washington Independent Writers) and signed up to pitch my completed novel to three agents. I spent a lot of time researching the 'pitch' and how to deliver, even had a nice pitch sheet to hand out. Calm and confident, I sat in the waiting room with other writers. But after a few minutes, I started to get nervous. It felt like auditions, with some folks coming back in with horror stories (one young woman said her agent walked out half-way through her pitch to get coffee) and others grinning, even wooping it up. Finally, they called our group and I located my first agent, a young man sitting at a vast round table already looking tired and annoyed. My rehearsed opening line flew from my mind, and as we shook hands, I said, "You're my first." He replied, "It won't hurt - I promise."

He asked for a partial and he's reading it now. Fingers crossed... Peace, Linda


RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:30 am
by RuthS
If you're thinking about attending a pitch session, you also need to consider WHO you are pitching to and whether they are even in a position to help you. Sounds like a no-brainer, but here's my story:

I attended a popular writing conference that included optional pitch sessions, for a fee. I didn't participate, but I know the slots were completely filled. I happened to sit next to a very young woman in the airport shuttle van after the conference, who was visibly exhausted. We started chatting, and she told me she was a representative from a movie studio and had been listening to pitches all day. She admitted that she felt bad because she didn't really have the power or authority the writers probably thought she had, and wasn't in a position to do anything for them.

I don't know the circumstances, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt; perhaps she was sent at the last minute because a colleague couldn't make it, etc. Should she have been up-front about her role? Of course.

So, if you're going to pay to pitch, be sure you know whether that investment has the potential to pay off in the end.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:02 pm
by gretchalb711
I attended my first writers' conference this June, bursting with nervous excitement. As part of my registration fee, I received two manuscript reviews and could schedule a pitch session with the editor of my choice. I signed up with a woman who I felt best fit my style and piece, and sat anxiously through two workshops as the appointment time drew nearer. I left one workshop a few minutes early to make the appointment, and then waited, and waited ... my editor never showed.

I was so disappointed, so dejected, in fact, that I left the conference before the last session. I hear it helps to have a thick skin in this business. Sure wish I could buy one of those at Wal-Mart.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:58 am
by Sheri2867
How much do these 'conferences' cost?

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:08 am
by jrtomlin
The costs vary. The Maui Conference--which is very high profile--runs nearly a thousand dollars. The Willamette Writers Conference costs $430, with an additional $15 for every one-on-one pitch. I happen to be a member of Willamette Writers and am less than thrilled with the line-up of agents in the upcoming conference, not one of whom are anyone that would be worth pitching for me. They will have an editor from Tor to pitch, but I'm not anxious to pitch publishers directly. I don't know that I'll attend the conference this year which is a disappointment.

They aren't cheap but I know several authors who did land agents from contacts made at them, so it's certainly worht looking into.

Edit: AND you have to make a pitch face to face with someone. Remember the lengthy argument about whether appearance matters? In this situation, it may--or at least being presentable. For sure, in that situation self-confidence does. The ability to speak does. The ability to take face-to-face rejection gracefully does. It's not for everyone--for sure not for the faint of heart.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:15 am
by Jamesaritchie
I've never been a big believer in pitch sessions, though I've had to go to a few. Most agents do not find very many clients this way, and nothing a writer can say will make up for the writing the agent reads.

If you can write something an agent believes will make money, you have an agent, whether you go to a pitch session, or stay home and write.  If you can't write something an agent believes will make money, you can talk her head off, and you still won't have an agent.

Agents pretty much never say yes at a conference, anyway.  At best, they may ask to see more material, and then they go home and look at partials from a hundred writers they met at conferences, none of which they are likely to remember, plus a thousand other partials that show up in the mail.

But if you go to the Maui conference, you might learn something about writing from the pro writers who attend, and you get to go to Hawaii.  Nothing wrong with this.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:58 pm
by abqwriter
I paid $100 to attend a writer's conference a couple of years ago. The agent rejected the premise of the completed manuscript but said she liked me writing and asked for any ideas I'd been tossing around. I passed a couple by her, she asked for a one page proposal via email, and within twenty-four hours I had a request for the full manuscript when it was completed. When another promising project came to my attention about a year after our first communication, I passed it by her as well. She said it wasn't what she usually takes on but recommended two other agents with referrals, and she asked that I keep her in mind for any future work.

So, no contract out of it, but it was worth the contact in the business.

RE: Do You Have a Pitch Conference Success (or Horror) Story to Share?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:49 pm
by jrtomlin
They may well say yes to reading your work, James. In that case it is in the coveted position of "requested material" instead of going into the slush pile. I know of a best-selling Nebula winning author who met her agent at a conference, so I know that it happens.

I never felt I learned much at a conference. Maui might be an exception. But the contacts are nice and it's fun to spend time with other writers as well as editors and agents. Still I question whether that is generally worth the steepish fee unless there is someone there you specifically want to meet or you're promoting your work in some way.