Backspace hasn't offered formal pitch sessions for our last four conferences. Here's why.

I suspect we're in the minority in this (though I'm not the only one who thinks we're in the right - check out this recent The Writers Edge blog post).

I'm curious to know what others think, particularly about the "pitch/slam" format that many conferences offer. Love pitch sessions? Hate 'em? Willing to endure them in order to get face-time with an agent?


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I think I'm with you there. I never pitched and wouldn't want to. Let the query speak. At that point you get undivided attention.
(IJ might want to sit down before reading this.)

I agree with IJ completely. I've never pitched in that format, and don't want to. I send a query and a writing sample and/or synopsis, depending on the agent's guidelines. If they can't be bothered to read them, and want to pick their clients via eevator pitch, I'm not sure I'd want to work with them, anyway.
Absolutely right! :) And I always enjoy our discussions, Dana.
Hi Karen,

I'm glad to have the opportunity to comment on this because my first and last pitch session was such a traumatic event. I was coached to pitch in fifty words or less, but when I finished the agent said, "Aw, c'mon, ya gotta gimme more." Yikes, I didn't know what to do. Well, I gave her more but she wasn't listening because she asked a question that had already been answered. She told me to send her ten pages but I didn't.

I'll continue to attend conferences, but I won't pitch at them. It'll be a query letter for me from now on.

~ Dianne
I pitched at a writers conference two years in a row, and I've got no problems with the experience. My first pitch was to an editor who became, five years later, my first agent.

People say the author/agent relationship can be like a marriage, and I think it's a good thing to meet someone you're considering marrying face to face. It's sort of like speed dating. :)
I'm not a fan of pitch sessions, either. I'm helping to plan a writers conference, too -- the inaugural California Crime Writers Conference, cosponsored by the Southern California chapter of MWA and SinC/LA. We will be having a number of agents lead workshops and at the end of the first day of the two-day event, we'll be having an agents reception in which other local agents will be also invited. The agents are being forewarned that participants may be talking to them about their WIP, but it will be much more informal. I've noticed that many agents are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, so at least writers can get their in the door and later mail their queries.
I've heard agents and editors say they find new clients, so I can see where people want them. But I've done enough face-to-face pitches to know I hate them. If my luck holds, I'll never do another. Two events have reduced me to tears in the last decade. One of them was a one-on-one with Simon Lipskar of Writer's House. Of course, what he said turned out to be 100% correct. :-)
I can see your point. On the other hand, two of the authors who pitched at Killer Nashville have gotten publishing contracts, both to be be released in 2009. Actually, Scott Pearson's was just released this month, and Margaret Fenton's will be out in June. I also know of people who have gotten agents through pitches at conferences. So I know it works for some.
So, how does this work? Somebody fill me in.
It's an oral query letter, Jon. One usually pays for the privilege of sitting alone with an agent at a table for three or four minutes. Where I participated the event was held in the hotel bar (no drinks being served unfortunately) and each of the agents had their own table. A cowbell rang when time was up and all the novelists got up and left while the next wave came in and sat down with the agents. A cattle call!
Good God. No drinks? Who thinks of these things?
You stand in front of an agent and make a fool of yourself.


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