Another excellent question from one of our readers:
What are the biggest mistakes writers make when pitching their work at a writers’ conference?
I asked around to several other agents here to find out what sorts of things make writers stand out to them during pitch sessions–and not in a good way. These were some of their replies:
I think the biggest issue I have is when people over-rehearse. It sounds so phony and it’s not engaging. I want people to talk naturally about their work, and while they should be able to do so easily, I don’t want it to sound like they’re reading from cue cards (or even worse, ACTUALLY reading from note cards).
I don’t know that I’d classify it as a big mistake, but I don’t like it when pitches go on too long, they need to be concise, and it’s hard to be objective when the pitcher gets really emotional, so I’d say keep it professional.
I’d say the biggest mistake is pitching a book that isn’t done: not complete, not revised, not read by a critique group or trusted friends and then revised again. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. An author that has a pitch session lined up before figuring out that they should have been further along in the process is better off taking the time to ask more general questions than pitching a book the agent can’t consider that the author might never complete—or that might be a very different book by the time they do finish.
I’d say being completely and utterly terrified. Or too reliant on a script. People trip themselves up and forget that all they really have to do is talk about their book. It’s better to be enthusiastic and calm than it is to be super-precise. Oh, and don’t bring props.
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