How to Pitch a Literary Agent In Person

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Q. Hi. I have a 5-minute appointment scheduled with a New York agent at a writer's conference. With only that much time, would you suggest I get right to the novel or should I start with my credentials and condense the story to a pitch line and a quick overview. I'd like to skip the amenities and get the story in, but I don't want to seem too abrupt or rude.
- Glenn

A. Glenn, five minutes is plenty of time to do everything you need. When you're talking about the book (the pitch), you shouldn't need more than about a minute and a half to pitch a novel, and maybe two minutes for nonfiction. After that, you can start talking about your credentials and accomplishments and platform. The whole thing should not take more than three minutes. I suspect most people practice their speech beforehand but still have it too long and sprawling. Boil it down; skip the nitty-gritty details. If you pitch your work in three minutes (max), you allow two minutes for discussion and follow-up questions. As far as how the order works, I would suggest jumping into the book pitch first, then getting to your credentials second.

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