On Saturday, I attended the Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam at which seemingly every agent in the universe sat around the perimeter of a Sheraton ballroom in midtown while aspiring authors lined up for the opportunity to pitch them. Here’s the kicker: every three minutes a bell would ring, and we were supposed to move on to the next pitch. This went on for two hours. If all went according to schedule, we’d be pitched by 40 authors. So how many people had sat down with me before I got completely off the bell schedule? One.
I actually felt like I killed the event. I flew through those pitches so fast that I think I squeezed a few extra in. And no one was present at my table for two bell ringings, so I’m pretty sure no one went over. When there are 15 people staring at you, you really start to worry about them getting the perception that you’re unfair. At least, I do.
Personally, I prefer pitches that are about ten minutes so that I can actually converse with people and tease out some detail. It also helps to be able to take notes and allow a little more time for information to sink in. I don’t know about the attention spans of others, but past the 90 minutes mark without a break, no matter how much I try to pay attention, that 31st pitch is probably going to be damned hard to follow. But maybe that’s the point? Because you know at that point that if something stands out, it REALLY stands out. And there was a late in the game pitch that really stuck with me, so I’m hoping when that project crosses my desk, it will be as good as it sounded.
Going to these events is always interesting because you just don’t know what you’re going to get. This particular pitch session was delightfully crazy-free, and there wasn’t a single person who pitched me in the bathroom OR who needed to be forcibly reminded that it was time for them to leave. It was like a belated Christmas miracle. But what I’m curious about is what the experience is like from the other side of the table. Surely some of you have been there. Is speed-pitching as hellacious as it appears to be?