Advice From a Literary Agent


I mentioned previously that I am pitching some agents in February at an event and so I decided to ask one of those agents I plan to speak with for some advice when pitching agents. While it helps to try and get the pulse of lit agents, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, of course. Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary responded with 3 things to keep in mind when pitching.

#1 Know that it’s not about you. Agents/editors only will take on work that reflects a need on their list. This one is new to me and, while I knew it deep down, I’d never looked at it that way. I’d always heard that “agents take projects they can also be passionate about and can sell,” but I never looked at it from the hardest end of the business spectrum–they snap up something most quickly that they’ve got all-but-sold based on their individual connections.

#2 A big don’t: don’t memorize your pitch and then say it as fast as humanly possible. Twitter can sometimes be unclear… I don’t believe she’s saying not to memorize it. She’s saying not to be wound so tightly that blow through your pitch in twenty seconds and then sit awkwardly for the next nine minutes. Relax and remember that your job as an author is to be a  expert communicator, so chill out and communicate effectively. Have trouble relaxing? I’ve heard social lubricants, if that’s your thing, can take the edge off 😉 just don’t over-do it. The point is to find away to find your chill.

#3 If they don’t take your project, ask if they have any advice for you. Use that time! I’ve done this. Remember that you paid for a block of time to pitch (at least that is the norm at most writer’s conferences). Use it wisely. You’ve essentially hired an agent for a 10-15 minute block for feedback. It’s not a lot of time and they will have limited exposure, but they can give insight to your hook, layout, tightness of writing, and whether or not there is a current demand for the kind of story you have written.

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