Often, writers will attend conferences and seminars to learn more about the craft, promote their own work, or perhaps meet literary agents that can help push them in the right direction.
And if you’ve ever met a literary agent at a conference, you might have found yourself a little tongue-tied. Don’t worry: that’s totally normal. After all, you’re attempting to sell a little bit of yourself, hoping that the world — and especially this agent — doesn’t hate it.
#1: Be Relevant
You wouldn’t approach a science fiction agency with your romance novel, would you? Do your research on the agents that will be present and pitch your story to those who are relevant.
“Where applicable, the pitch should be tailored to the agent,” says Rosenkranz. “Argue the merit of the work, detail what sets it apart from the competition, explain what personal and/or professional experience you bring to it, and show the need in the marketplace—making the strongest case possible for the book.”
“Do not suggest that your genre will change my mind and make me want to represent a project out of my field of expertise,” adds Hagan.
#2: Be Brief
Obviously, you don’t have the whole day to pitch your story. You have to keep it short and sweet - but above all, interesting.
“The most effective pitch is when the writer isn’t reading from notes but describing the project while looking the agent in the eye, so it’s best to keep display items to a minimum,” says Rosenkranz.
“[Be] Being prepared to leave a well-written, short and detailed pitch, author bio with contact information and marketing ideas,” adds Hagan.
#3: Be Passionate
If you’re not in love with your story, how can you expect someone else to be?
“Show how much you care about sharing your work with the world,” says Hagan. “At the end of the day, I want to still be thinking about what you have shared with me.”
“We genuinely want to hear about your project!” says Rosenkranz. “Writers should be ready with any accompanying materials and should be focused.”
If you’re looking to attend a literary conference near you, then check out this handy list that might point you in the right direction.
Websites like Kentbury are also an excellent method to let the agents search for you!