It's hard out here for a pimp

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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Re: It's hard out here for a pimp

Post by Nick » February 14th, 2010, 12:24 pm

brian_crawford wrote:I sit down at the table, elevator pitch in hand, book manuscript in my lap. The bell rings. I have three minutes. The agent across from me is already skeptical; that's his job. I have to find a way to make myself -- and my novel -- stand out. It reminds me of that scene in the movie "Hustle and Flow" when D-Jay is trying to get Skinny Black to listen to his demo tape. Welcome to Speed Dating with Agents at the San Francisco Writers Conference.

The Speed Dating event is just like it sounds: you have a dozen literary agents in a room full of conference attendees who, like me, paid an extra $50 for the hour-long event. The agents stand up and tell the attendees who they are and what type of work they're looking for. Then you sit down with an agent, and you have three minutes to pitch your book, including time for the agent's response. You give your spiel. A bell rings. You stop talking. The agent responds. Then – ding! – a second bell rings and you move to the next one. Pretty intense, huh?

The rest of the SF Writers Conference is intense, too. Last year, it consisted of three days of workshops, Q&A sessions, key note speakers, and book signings, but what it was really about was networking, networking, networking. There's something paradoxically comical about writers trying to sell themselves in every breakout session, bathroom, and buffet line. If you want to feel like a god for a day, fashion a name badge that says "editor" or "agent" and stroll around a writers conference. Jesus himself could've floated through the crowd, and he would've been trampled on the way to the agent's table. Witnessing the milieu, I gained a deep respect for editors and agents, and a better understanding of what it's like on their side of the table. One agent told me he gets 600 emails a day, most of them book queries (proposals). 600 emails! And we're not talking about a "thx" message from Jim in accounting; these are emails with entire manuscripts attached.

As frenzied as the hallway schmoozing was, the scheduled pitch events, such as Speed Dating, were even more intense. I can't imagine what it was like for the agents and editors. They sit at a table for hours, and every three minutes, a bell rings and another eager-eyed scribe sits down to pitch a book. I would have bashed my head against the table after the first half hour, but these professionals remained engaged, polite and responsive. I was extremely impressed, and I'm not just saying that in case one of them happens to be reading my blog. Are you reading my blog? Anyone? Remember me... we met at the SF Writers Conference... I'm the biotech thriller guy... remember?

Last year, the conference ended up being a huge success for me, and well worth the price of admission. I connected with several writers and freelance editors. And I pitched my book to three agents and one editor, and all four of them liked my idea and asked me to send sample pages! So I'm doing the conference again this year (Feb 12-14). Wish me luck. Because it's hard out here for a pimp.
You, sir, have just won. I free you from the game forever.

In all seriousness, I hope you've had good luck at this conference thing, or will have by the end of the day today. Ĝis revido.

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