Focus on answering just one question: “How can they sell what I have to offer?” Do your homework so you are paired with an agent or editor who best represents the kind of work you do. Spend a few minutes on their website and find out about their agency and the authors it represents. And read the person’s bio. The goal is to connect with someone who is looking for what you have to offer.
Prepare a “one floor” elevator speech. At the beginning of your session, describe your work in just one sentence, then state your hook, word count, and genre. Then, when it’s appropriate, give your longer elevator speech. You’ll make the most of your precious few minutes if you get to the point. This also helps the agent or editor focus on you even if you’re the eighty-ninth person who has sat across the table that day.
Make the most of your time, even if it doesn’t go well. If your work is not a good fit, don’t argue or get defensive. Instead, use your remaining time to ask for advice about agents or editors who might be receptive, or for advice about future pitch sessions.
Think of it as a fun speed date interview, not a stressful job interview. What everyone says turns out to be true—they’re actually human, so relax! If you’re nervous, try channeling that energy into enthusiasm and positive excitement. The agent or editor is there to find that terrific new client, and it might as well be you.
If you’ll be at the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference in Austin this weekend, I wish you the best of luck!