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You finally did it. Mouth dry, hands sweatier than the hands of someone who sweats a lot, you made that in-person pitch to the agent of your dreams.

Incredibly, the words you rehearsed a thousand times in the last week came out smoother than you ever dreamed possible. No stutter or tremble in your voice. No nervous flatulence (at least, not from you). In fact, you couldn't have made that pitch with any more eloquence if you had another thousand years to prepare. 

Now you wait for the agent's response. Every moment of silence drags on longer than the last. Your heart feels like a melon trying to wedge itself up into your throat.

At last, the agent raises a hand. Will it be thumbs up or thumbs down? And what if you do get a request for a partial, or even a full ms? How can you tell if he/she is really excited about your book or just asking to see more on the off-chance it turns out to be a better read than you made it sound?

Over the years I've developed a knack for reading between the lines. Being the helpful chap I am, I've made a list of some of the things an agent might say after your in-person pitch that might mean they're not quite as interested in your book as you hoped.  
  
The Agent Pitch: 10 Responses You Don't Want to Hear

1: "You know, if I hadn't just sold a book for a client with that exact same premise, I think I'd ask you to send me the full ms."

2: "Sounds great, never mind sending me a partial ms, let me sign you up right now... Bazinga! You've fallen victim to another one of my classic pranks. Oh, I'm such a kidder. Here, pull my finger." 

3: "Sorry, I drifted off there for a moment. What were you saying?"

4: "Next!"

5: "This is a joke, right? Did Donald Maass put you up to this?"

6: "Go away."

7: "Stewardess!"

8: "That's nice. Now if you don't mind, can we get back to organizing my mother's headstone. Did you say this one comes in marble?"

9: "I have a couple of questions. Who the heck are you and what are you doing in my hot tub?"

10: ____________________________________________


I left #10 blank.

What would you put on the list?

If you found this helpful, you might also like:

10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to an Agent During an In-Person Pitch

A Rejection With a Silver Lining





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Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
kathryncraft
Mar. 28th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Here's one I heard while wrapping up a pitch. I didn't think I'd connected with this agent even though she requested the first three chapters. She extended a handshake that exuded the cool electricity of a dead eel then said, "Good luck to you."
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
Or as Captain sub-text would say, "Don't let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out." :)
garyfrank
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
When I pitched my first book to Melissa Singer of Tor, after I got through the whole pitch without stumbling too much, she said: So what does your main character do? My first thought: Can I get back to you on that? I sort of mumbled something about him coming to realize why his life was the way it was and her response: Ah, so he self-actualizes. Yeah. That was it. The end result was the book was too long (100,000 words) for Tor for a first time author. But excellnt practice!
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's all good stuff for the memoir, right :)
peadarog
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, you want that kind of agent. This is the FBI.
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Hehehehe :)
(Anonymous)
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
Agent
Yea, I met one at the last Write Stuff, too. I forgot why I was told to see this good looking young, blonde lady who asked me for synopsis of my book and while I was giving an answer< she glanced at her watch several times. For a second
I regreted I was senior citizen, otherwise I would ask her to step down to a nearby bar for a drink.
"I work for a literary Agency",
she told me without my asking any questions.
"I understand that anything to do with literature nowadays is a lost cause. The readers became 'Couchpotatoes', So how do you make your living" My interviewer became somewhat agitated. No doubt she asked herself how could anyone talk indifferently to "Literato" agent. "I make 15% on all successfully published and sold books", she proudly said.
"I got tired waiting for response from a publisher about my book", I told her, "So I publshed myself and now I am receiving 35% royalty every month, and already 3 publishers
called me a few times waiting for my next book, 'The Worshipers of Politically Incorect God'. I don't reply them right away, waitng for another call to boost my ego." "Who are they," she snapped and started to look at her watch again. I said good-bye to her which she empatically reapted it with raised voice.

I felt my interview was a diregard of human dignity. And who needs those agents now. I am not even a writer. At Columbia University I graduated with a "D" grade in English. All my life I have been a fiddle fixer, but when I retired I learned about writing by attending every month writers meetings at Borders. There I met one of the true literary critic and editor Kathryn Craft and she turned out my memoir "The Winding Path to Freedom" to a success. When ever blues invade my mind and soul, I open Google, enter my book's name and watch it being advertised everywhere not only int the U.S but in about every country of Europe and other continents. Lots of luck to all plumbers, carpenters and fiddlers who turned out to becoma writers.
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Agent
I think Kathryn's great (but don't tell her I said so) ;)
blood_of_winter
Mar. 28th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
10. *maniacal laughter* or *drink comes out nose*

11. err...what did you say your day job was?

12 sounds...um, great. Can you give me back the toilet paper for this stall now?

jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
I like #10, especially if they can manage both at once :)
eilwatkins
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
Agent Responses
Ah, you said it first! I was going to offer the line, "Great... you got any toilet paper over on your side?"

--E. F. Watkins
blood_of_winter
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Agent Responses
unfortunately, i took that one from an article on agent horror stories!!
dlgarfinkle
Mar. 28th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
I'd love to represent your book. Please give me $500 upfront.
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
Lol, only $500? :)
jakobdrud
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
#10: This is the best book in the galaxy! I'll send it to my people at once. Maybe when they land they'll allow you to watch the end of the Earth.
jongibbs
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Now that's just cruel. I like it :)
snapes_angel
Mar. 28th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
"Nice. Where's the hidden camera?"
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
clarionj
Mar. 28th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
Hahaha ... and maybe this is why I don't want to have to pitch an agent ever! (Despite wanting one :)
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you'd get a much more favorable response :)
peachette48
Mar. 28th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
Zzzzzzzzzz
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
Hehehe, now that would be a bad sign :)
peachette48
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
I always tend to see the weird stuff in life.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
This was a good pitch session, until....
I had a great pitch session at last year's conference. He requested my first 3 chapters, I emailed them to him, and then, he quit his job! Could it have been something I wrote? I wonder...
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
Re: This was a good pitch session, until....
I'm sure it was just a coincidence :)
writerjenn
Mar. 29th, 2011 12:38 am (UTC)
"I'm sorry, I'm not an agent. I work here at the hotel and I'm supposed to refill the water pitchers. But you were on such a roll there, I hated to interrupt you. Good luck with your book, though!"

"It's a shame the mutant-octopus trend is just about over, or this would be a real winner."

"Urp. I should NOT have had the shrimp for lunch."

"Please call me right away, Ms. Rowling, I'm eager to work with you! Oh, your name is J. K. BOWLING? Oops, sorry. You know, you might want to think about changing that."

jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
That darn shrimp causes a lot of trouble, doesn't it :)
lovepowerandfairytaleendings.blogspot.com
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
I got one that was uncannily like your #1, only it went like this:
"You know, if I didn't have a client with that exact same premise, a book I love and have been completely unable to sell to anyone, I think I'd ask you to send me the full ms."
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
Ouch!
dendrophilous
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
"Thanks for the toilet paper."
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Hehehehe :)
tracy_d74
Mar. 29th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
When was the last time you took your medication? Was it before or after you escaped from the hospital?

(Jon, you are toooo funny!)
jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
You know, I wonder how often agents actually do think that :)
rymrytr
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)


HAAAAhaaaaahaaaaaahaaaa... You sure fooled me. I thought you were serious when you said you had written an extremely sad SF Tragedy.

But that was the most hilarious Thing I ever read. The best part was when the Mother of the last living member of a Race of Alien Amphibious Circus Clowns, 'croaked' and then, (BAAHhhawwaa) and... and then, as he put her into the disposal tube, he put his Pink, Rubber Nose on her, honked it and said "Ribit, ribit, I luf you Mummy, ribit".



jongibbs
Mar. 29th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
lavericknine
Mar. 31st, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Lol, these are hilarious. 2 is my favorite, I want to use that one >:D I think I'd have a hard time not laughing at someone who says something crazy like that. Hmm, I guess if the agent was said, "Um... O-kay." That would be pretty bad. I wonder how agents avoid hurting feelings? It probably can't be helped...
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2011 11:19 am (UTC)
I wonder how agents avoid hurting feelings?

Now you mention it, it must feel rotten to have to pierce someone's bubble in a face-to-face conversation.
wendigomountain
Jun. 15th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
10. "My story is about...what?...hey...hey! Stop it! Stop repeating everything I say! What the hell is wrong with you?! I'm a jerk. No YOU're a jerk! No YOU'RE A JERK! Knock it off! Hey!"

It could go on and on from there.
jongibbs
Jun. 15th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
And likely end in tears :)
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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