If you’re going to a writer’s conference that offers pitch appointments, you might be tempted to take any appointment with anyone. Don’t do it. When it comes to making your appointment, find out who’s still available and do your research. Don’t kid yourself. If an agent doesn’t represent your genre, that’s not going to change just because you decided to pitch to them. What you’re actually doing is wasting their time and yours. And you’re keeping someone else from pitching to an agent who represents their genre. You’d be better off not pitching if you don’t see someone who could represent you.
The same goes for agents you, for whatever reason, wouldn’t normally query. Don’t pitch to them. There’s no point. You wouldn’t have wanted them to represent you had you not been at the conference, so don’t let the conference buzz take away your better judgment. You’ve heard it before. It’s better to not have an agent than to have a bad agent or one who doesn’t fit your personality and work.
All that being said… If you’re hanging out in the pitch appointment room, waiting for no-shows so you can grab their appointments, it’s harder to do your research ahead of time. Ask those around you, including the gals setting up the appointments, and explain you obviously didn’t have a chance to research the agent, but you don’t want to waste her time. If nobody can help you figure out what this agent represents and you don’t have a Smart Phone, you might have to take a chance and go to the appointment. When you get there, be honest with the agent and explain the situation. If she doesn’t represent your genre, take the time to ask about the industry or about her agency. Maybe someone she works with reps your genre.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a pitch appointment or if you weren’t able to pitch to one of your favorite agents. The agent you pitch to could surprise you and impress you with her answers to your questions. If not, or if you didn’t have an appointment, don’t sweat it. Pitching to an agent might get you a request, but it won’t guarantee anything beyond that. So, if you have a hooky query letter and can’t-put-‘em-down sample pages, you could still end up with a request. And that’s all that counts, right?