I'm on my way to a writing conference at Rose State College (near Oklahoma City) and of course in addition to presenting programs I will be doing one on one appointments.
Too many people don’t take an appointment because they don’t have a project to pitch. It’s a missed opportunity, for most editors and agents I know enjoy having “teaching appointments” with conferees. Though they don’t have anything to pitch, they do have questions. I enjoy those, as long as I’m told up front so I’m not waiting for a pitch that isn’t coming.
Then there is the conferee who takes up all their appointment talking. You can’t sell your project in a ten- or fifteen-minute appointment. That isn’t enough time, but you can make an impression on the agent or editor so they will remember you when we have the chance to send your proposal to him or her. An editor or agent will let you talk your time away if you insist; that makes it easy for him or her. But if you really want to make an impression, engage that agent or editor and make him or her participate in the dialogue. It’s the same with agents using the time to read your proposal. They will probably ask you to send it electronically because most won’t remember what they read beyond the first two or three appointments, if that many.
Remember, the competition for contracts is stiff. Before you go to an editor/agent appointment remember these tips: Make your submission outstanding, make it your best work, exactly follow their submission guidelines.
What does it take to give a successful pitch? For the Hartline agents, we sell manuscripts to editors we know and have a relationship with. That means I’m looking for projects that really interest me, are well written, and, most important, are manuscripts that match what these editors are looking for. The last thing I want to do is put something under contract when I have no place to go with it.