Pitching to Agents: 8 Tips

Last week, I talked about what not to do when pitching to a literary agent. Aside from avoiding pitching to agents in the bathroom or refraining from arguing with him/her, what SHOULD you do when pitching to an agent? Check out these eight tips.

-Dress to impress. This doesn’t mean you need a suit. Think interview clothes. Dress up. No jeans or flip-flops.

-Get plenty of rest. While your friends might be partying the night before, you might want to reconsider. Showing up with a hangover or while you’re half asleep might not be the best first impression. Not to mention, if you’re tired, you might forget your pitch or be overly nervous.

-Be ready. Have a pitch prepared. Don’t wing it. But, this also means you should have all your papers, bags, books, and whatever else you have with you, organized before you enter the pitch room. You don’t want to spend a couple of your pitching minutes putting things in your bag or removing them. Take out what you need while you’re in the waiting area, and put the rest away.

-Research the agent ahead of time. She might ask you why you decided to pitch to her. Why do you feel she would be the best agent to represent your book? Be prepared to answer those questions.

-Be hydrated but not too hydrated. You don’t want to have “dry tongue” when you’re pitching, but you also don’t want to spend those 3-10 minutes wishing you’d gone to the bathroom before you got there. Take care of business beforehand.

-Have questions ready. As much as you need to be prepared for questions the agent might ask you about your book or where you want to go with your writing career, you should have questions for her, too. This is your chance to pick her brain and find out if she really is a good fit for you and your book. What do you want to know about her that you haven’t been able to find online?

-Remember the agent is human, too. That’s right. She’s not a goddess, a wizard, or a unicorn. She’s simply a human, just like you and me. Maybe that’s not as exciting, but it’s true. She’ll have her good days and bad days. And she might be as nervous as you are. Not all agents are comfortable meeting new people every few minutes. So, if it’ll help you with your nerves, pretend she’s more nervous that you. This is similar to someone on stage looking at the audience and imagining everyone in their underwear. While I don’t suggest you do this with an agent—that’s just creepy—you could envision her stomach in knots so that you won’t feel like she’s above you.

-Act confident. Even if you have to fake it, pretend you’re confident. Don’t be cocky, snobby, or act as though you’re better than the agent. Instead, show her how passionate you are about your story and how much you believe in it.

What other suggestions do you have to someone pitching to an agent for the first time?

Lynnette Labelle

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