The Agony and the Pitch Session

Spring is here, and the writers conferences will soon follow. I volunteer at the American Independent Writers‘ conference in Washington, DC, and the most popular event is the pitch session. 

I’ve pitched to three agents. Practice does not make perfect. No matter what I did, when it got close to the session time, my nerves were on fire. As each minute marched by, the ratchet on my nerves tightened until I thought I would burst.

I thought volunteering would help. I’d get to observe the agents and see them as people. When I was doing queries, the agent was this distant person laying down the stamp of doom: REJECTED.  In person, the agents were nice people.  They drank coffee or Diet Coke and liked chocolate chip cookies.

Didn’t help.  During the last pitch session, I battled to keep from imploding and bouncing off the walls. An agent noticed and asked “Are you nervous?” I lied: “A little,” and managed to survive it without embarrassing myself. A month later, I received the rejection.

What kind of experiences have you had at pitch sessions? Did you find them easy or approach them with mind-numbing terror?

5 thoughts on “The Agony and the Pitch Session

  1. The dreaded pitch, yes. Horrible, I agree. In February I was at my first-ever writers’ conference in San Francisco, and it was an experience 🙂 But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, and I got six agents (out of 8) to request partial or full MS, which I guess is a good result. What helped me a lot was Katharine Sands’ session on Pitchcraft; I blogged about it a couple of days ago, sharing my notes on the session. If you want to take a look, here is the link:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Linda, and best of luck with your pitches!


    1. Those are some useful tips! Not something everyone thinks about when pitching. I think they also apply to the writing itself, because if the book doesn’t work, the greatest pitch session in the world isn’t going to help.


  2. Linda – I think you’ve summed it up for most of us. It’s like your months of work all depend on this 11 minutes you’ve been given to sell yourself. Of course we are nervous!

    You will hear people say: don’t worry, everyone gets a request for a partial (or even a full) so if you don’t make the “right” impression at the interview, your work will still get a chance.

    Well, I’ve pitched many times and all of the agents/editors have been lovely people. But I have not always got requests to submit. So, if you DO get a request, don’t think it’s just par for the course. You’re doing something right!


    1. What I’ve found — and this is from running the pitch session and watching the writers — is that unless the book is completely wrong for the agent (i.e. wrong genre), they’ll take the material. So I’m not necessarily seeing it as a good sign, or a bad sign.


Comments are closed.