The Art and Chaos of the Live Pitch

Hello Hopefuls,

As I said in my recent posts, I attended the Northern Kentucky Writer’s Conference last month and it was an eye-opening and incredibly humble experience to say the least.

Soooo, let’s start at the top.  In this post I will be talking about the live pitch, which in essence is when you attend a conference and pay an extra amount to sit with a real live agent and pitch your book.  You have roughly ten minutes to bring your manuscript to life and pique their interest without losing your nerve and babbling like an idiot.  Trust me, it is one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life up to this point.

I pre-selected my agent of choice and flirted with the idea of 2 more pitches, but when I went back to sign up their schedule was full.  I couldn’t get a sit down with them, but I did have an appointment in the afternoon with an agent from the Seymour Agency.  But this blog isn’t about that live pitch, it’s about the train wreck that I laid out early that morning.

I went to register at about 8:30 a.m. after about 4 hours of what I would loosely call sleep.  I tossed and turned, still trying to get my live pitch down in my head, but I couldn’t see through the fog – couldn’t nail down what I wanted to say in my ten minutes of fame and glory.  But hey, I can ad-lib, right?  Do it all the time for work.  I would just use the lunch hour to write down my thoughts and be primed for my 1:40 meeting.  No doubt I would knock it out of the park!  As they say, the best laid plans often go astray – and that was certainly the case.

As I said, I arrived early to register and noticed an agent that I really wanted to pitch to leisurely sipping her coffee.  She was early and I decided to cease the moment and introduce myself.  Being cool and collected, I said hello and explained that I wanted to pitch to her but her schedule was full.  All I wanted was to put my face to a name and hopefully make some type of impact so that she would ask to see my work and possibly represent me as an agent.  It ABSOLUTELY backfired.  She was incredibly gracious and kind and said, “well I guess it’s a good thing I’m early, why don’t we sit and you can tell me about your book?”  Time froze and I’m pretty sure all of the color left my face, not to mention my knees nearly buckling out from under me.  After mumbling an obscenity I decided to give it a whirl.  How bad could it bed?  Besides, it would be great practice and surely I could wing it.  WRONG!

I sat down, proceeded to massacre the pitch, allowing verbal diarrhea to spew forth like an idiot.  I was mortified. She understood that I was nervous and graciously asked me to send her the pages – even though she was likely being polite. When it was over, I tried to recant the meeting and it was all a blur.  I don’t even think I gave her the title of the manuscript!  I was ready to pack my bag, skip the 1:40 pitch I had scheduled and start drinking at 8:45 a.m.  Needless to say, the day got better and I learned a lot during the seminar (more to come on that in later posts), then I drank wine over dinner.

Moral of the story: if you go to a conference and intend to do a live pitch, make sure you’re prepared for the unexpected.  You never know when a chance encounter might land you on a couch with an agent – and you better have your shit together!

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