Pitching to Agents: Why A Little Sweat’s Okay

If you’re a writer, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve had conferences on the brain. I’m heading to OWFI in Oklahoma this week, while many friends conference it up at DFW Con in Texas. Registration for ThrillerFest, Bouchercon, RWA and other fests are ongoing, all of which provide opportunities to mix, mingle and potentially pitch to literary agents.

As some of you know, I met my agent at AgentFest—the pitch portion of ThrillerFest, which takes place annually in New York City. My pitch was not polished, memorized or anywhere near perfect. I rambled a bit, stumbled over a word or 700 two, and probably spoke faster than ideal. But you know what? I had fun, relayed the gist of my novel, and my now agent saw something worth further considering.

While it’s awesome to prepare for pitches, and conferences in general, what seems most important to me is being ourselves while we’re there–whether we’re anxious, excited, shy, outgoing, blurty, loud or fill-in-the-blank.


An agent/author relationship is a close and valuable one. If we don’t mesh personality-wise, that’s a problem. Enthusiasm is a great thing, even if it makes us bumble around a bit. And no one is expecting the most eloquent speech ever recited. As my agent wisely said, it’s their (agents’) job to pitch stories to publishers; writers’ primary job is to write. Keeping that in mind might help remove some of the pressure. (I suppose I’m sharing what I wish someone had told me pre-pitch.;))

Most of all, I want to wish all of you who’ll be pitching this weekend or later on this year GOOD LUCK and heap loads of fun. If you are, you may find the following links helpful:

ThrillerFest.com: Something Did Happen (How I landed my agent)

Write It Sideways: How to Slam Dunk Your 90-Second Pitch, by Debra Eve

The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy: Is the Agent Pitch Session an Effective Tool or Could it use a Tweak?, by Guest Agent Sara Megibow

What writers’ conferences are you looking forward to? Heading to OWFI or DFW Con? Will you be pitching? Any tips or challenges to share?

Leave a comment


  1. I committed the ultimate sin and pitched when I was in the middle of a rewrite. Talk about blathering aimlessly…!

    I’m not pitching at DFW Con because I’m still twisting the plot threads.

    You will rock your pitch sessions, and I so wish OWFI wasn’t this same weekend. I’d love to hear your presentation.

    • Aw. Well I’m sure that was fine practice regardless. Conferences have a whole different feel now that I’m past pitching and on the presenting side. Regardless, it’d be more fun if you were there! We must swap stories. 🙂

  2. Great post, August. One day I hope to have something to pitch! 😉

  3. Many writers ARE being themselves when they make their pitch, which is to say…obnoxious and pushy, a real turnoff for the agents. I guess that’s good for the rest of us, eh?

  4. Such great advice! Thanks, August! I’ll be pitching at DFWCon this weekend. It’s my new middle grade novel. Have a great time at OWFI!

  5. Great info, and thanks for the useful links. I’ve bookmarked this page in the event an Agentfest is in my future. 🙂

  6. Enjoy OWFI and thanks for sharing those very important thoughts. It’s so important not to get caught up in the frenzy and just be yourself!

  7. Thanks for the shoutout, August, and thanks again for providing the great material in my Write It Sideways article. We’ll have to do a followup soon, on agent-assisted publishing!

  8. Great tips and resources, August! Like Renee – I, too, hope there is something to pitch…someday.

  9. Thanks for the info today – I was the guy at the back, one of the few to keep my hand up when you asked “who loves blogging?” I wanted to stick around and chat with you afterwards, but I had to get to an early birthday dinner for my sister. I was going to ask you ifyouthink it advisable to move my blog from blogger/blogspot to WordPress – all the big guns seem to prefer WordPress. I have 61 posts and a handful of followers. What say you? Again, thanks for the workshop today and best of luck to your future blogging endeavors (I’ve skimmed a few of the “Girl Boner” entries – the incorporation of research makes it all the more valuable – facts in a very approachable, easy to read presentation.

    • Hey Jarrett! Thanks for the kind words and for attending my workshop. Your enthusiasm will take you far. 🙂

      I’d suggest playing around some with WordPress. If you like it, switching could be a great move. Share a post on your current blog, announcing the change and inviting followers to subscribe to your new blog. I’d do so sooner than later, before your readership grows further.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck, and keep me posted.

  10. Thanks for your presentation at OWFI. I am checking out the blogs you mentioned and found my Klout score. Helpful information. Thanks.

  11. Raani York

     /  May 4, 2013

    Thank you very much for your blog post and information that comes with it. I hope one day I’ll be there! *sigh*

  12. I wish I hadn’t been so busy this past week getting ready for OWFI that I’m now reading this AFTER my pitches, rather than before. I was sooo nervous, but I did get a full request! (For the same novel I won the fantasy novel contest with last night at the awards banquet.)

    I’m so glad I got to meet you, and hopefully we’ll cross paths at another conference again someday :).

  1. OWFI Conference | Creative Musings of Ledia Runnels

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