Saturday, October 27, 2012

Surrey Day 2—Agent Pitch and Peace Arch

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.  


Jess said...

Congrats on getting a page request from your pitch~ sounds like you were prepared and did everything right! I'm really surprised that people get requests and never send things in...seems odd. Nice info on the peace arch!

Ink in the Book said...

Ho exciting for sure! It's one thing to send a pitch through email, but to talk face to face and get a personal request, that's just pure joy! Congrats!
And thanks for the info about the Peace arch!

Mark Murata said...

Thank you for your encouragement. It's definitely worth it to find an opportunity to pitch in person.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You're kidding about the 'never send pages in' part? That's ridiculous--unless they didn't like the agent after meeting her, I guess.

Good luck with your requested pages, Mark. :D

Mark Murata said...

I have to add a third reason why writers will not submit, besides loss of nerve and an unfinished manuscript. The editor or agent may suggest changes on the spot. The wannabe writer goes home, stroking his or her manuscript, muttering "my precious," and does not submit. And when you think about it, that's using "submit" in two different ways.

Ellie Garratt said...

Congratulations on the page request. It must have been nerve-racking, but from your right up it seems it is definitely worth considering. Some awesome advice on pitches in there.


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