One of the most important parts of the Surrey Writers’ Conference is the chance to pitch to an agent or editor. To get the person of your choice, sign up way ahead of time (during summer). The agent I pitched to was Vickie Motter. I didn’t get a picture of her, but her blog is here:
Each pitch session is scheduled for ten minutes. The usual advice is to summarize your novel (that you’ve worked on for a year) in two minutes or less. I had my pitch down to one minute and fifteen seconds, emphasizing at the start what makes the character unique and the particular angst she has. Then I mentioned a couple of try/fail cycles in the plot, and the climactic ending. If your story is more plot-oriented, you may want to spend more of the time on the try/fail cycles, but still keep it short.
Presentation is important. I dressed business casual with a nice sport jacket and spoke at a moderate pace with a clear voice, somewhat louder than my normal (all the pitches were occurring in an open area). Eye contact is important—do not consult notes during the pitch.
She had a few questions for me, including what well-known books I could compare mine to. I could think of only one series, and she advised me it’s a good idea to have more than one comparison to cite. After only a few questions, she said I could send her some sample pages.
So this is promising. Even if she does not accept my manuscript, take a look at her website for what particular genres she is looking for—she was one of the more sought-after agents at the conference. What’s astounding is that agents in general say that even after asking for pages from a potential client at one of these conferences, most of the would-be authors never send their pages in. Could it be loss of nerve, or they did not really have completed manuscripts? In my case, I sent in my sample pages the Monday after the conference.
On the way back into Washington, I passed the Peace Arch. This picture was taken in passing—I rolled down my window and snapped it while holding the camera in my left hand.
The Peace Arch symbolizes the peaceful nature of the border between Canada and America. This is kind of ironic, since this is the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and I plan on reading a book on the war at sea. As for the land war, British troops from Canada burned the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. I guess the Peace Arch emphasizes the border between British Columbia and Washington.