A Rare and Useful Opportunity

Pitching your work to agents is a great way to advance your writing, and our upcoming Books Alive! Conference provides you with the opportunity.

A Rare and Useful Opportunity

Galleycat reported last month that “many of the traditional ways literary agents discover talent have changed over the last few years ….” Indeed, both agents and writers are casting about for new ways to get each other’s attention. While you might think that technology has made the matching process easier, this isn’t necessarily true: agents are deluged with hundreds of e-queries, and getting out of the slush pile remains a difficult challenge.

This can be frustrating for writers, who may query dozens of agents without receiving any response, much less any feedback. That’s where I was about three years ago: I’d written and revised my manuscript and queried for months with no success. The Independent’s Books Alive! 2013 Conference, coming up in just a few weeks (Saturday, June 8), makes me think back on this time, because when I attended a similar conference it proved to be a transformative experience for me.

I met and networked with other local writers, several of whom I’m still in touch with. I learned about both craft and marketing from the day’s panels. (My experience at the conference also led to my involvement with the Independent, but that’s another story.) And I got a chance to pitch my work to two agents, one of whom requested my full manuscript. It was my first full request after all that fruitless querying!

Pitching your work bypasses the query slush pile and gets your work direct attention from agents. Even if it doesn’t lead to a book deal, pitching is incredibly helpful to let you know where you stand.

I found my conference pitching experience so valuable, in fact, that the next year I attended the Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam in New York. Hundreds of writers and dozens of agents gathered in a room for three exhausting hours of three-minute pitches. I walked out with nearly a dozen full and partial requests in hand. (I also walked out in desperate need of a beer!) Several agents subsequently sent detailed and useful feedback on my manuscript, and when none of the requests progressed further, I knew I needed to go back to the drawing board. This may not be the world’s most incredible writing success story, but it sure beats wasting more time querying a not-ready-for-primetime manuscript.

The Independent has set up a very strong agenda for the Books Alive! Conference on June 8. It’s an opportunity to learn from prominent local writers, to network, and to pitch your work. Take advantage of this event to advance your writing: register for the conference today. Also, as the time gets closer, I’ll be sharing some tips on pitching to agents, so keep an eye out.


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