Have you heard of Speed Dating (as in the movie Hitch), where women sit on one side of a long narrow table and potential dates sit across from them? Each pair gets only a few minutes
to get to know each other until the bell rings. This is the same setup for Speed Pitching. You get 90 seconds to deliver your spiel to the agent across from you, and the agent gets 90 seconds to respond, for a total of 3 minutes.
Recently, I went to a pitch session from 8-9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, which I learned works well for agents who are on East Coast time, where it was already 11 a.m.
Cue card and list of agents in hand, I waited in a queue in front of my first choice among all the agents. When the bell rang, I took a seat and introduced myself to a woman who seemed like The Perfect One to represent my book. Unfortunately, I stumbled over a sentence, lost my place, and rambled on forever, despite the flicker of wariness in her eyes. A bell rang to say we had 30 seconds left. Things went downhill from there. The Perfect One laughed lightly, said she’d have to pass on my work, and wished me luck.
I reviewed my cue card with a vengeance while waiting for my next turn. It went much better. At the end of the hour and half, I had pitched to six agents and three editors. One said that she couldn’t in good conscience consider my manuscript because she was currently representing a book with a similar theme. But seven invited me to submit my work. Whew!
During the conference workshops, however, I discovered that my manuscript is nowhere near ready to send. That’s why I’ve launched into a major revision, the fourth one so far, but who’s counting?
I hope my experience will help you the next time you meet with agents. Happy Pitching!