Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Pitch

I hadn't planned on pitching to an agent. My word count is just under 30,000 words and I only have about a third of the book finished. So how did this happen? I got suckered into pitching. It's okay that your book isn't finished, they said. It'll be good practice, they said. So I signed up. 

At this point, I'd done absolutely no research on the agent. I had a vague idea of what she was interested in, but one of my friends who was assigned to escort the agent around told me she wasn't interested in science fiction. Now, my book isn't exactly science fiction. It's a near-future dystopia, which as a genre, is often lumped into the overarching field of sci-fi. So that's one mark against me. 

Luckily, the agent whom I'd signed up to speak with was giving a talk on pitching. It was a two day conference and my appointment wasn't until Sunday. So I went to her talk, which focused mainly on query letters, and learned that she did, in fact, once choose to represent a first time young adult author who had not yet finished the book when she got it. She went on to say that she absolutely would not do that again. Another mark against me. 

At this point, I'd pretty much given up any hope of her being interested in my manuscript. Yes, that may have been a little premature, but I'm not exactly a glass-half-full type of girl. So that night, after a brief celebration for winning an Honorable Mention in the conference's contest, category: poetry, I did some googling. Turns out, this agent does mostly nonfiction, including a lot of economics, financial-crisis, dangers of corrupt capitalism stuff. And, while my book is fiction, that fits in with the theme of my world in which corporations have supplanted government as the ruling authorities. So +1 for me. Then I read something that gave me hope. "Interested in dark, issue-oriented young adult fiction." 

I wrote my pitch and memorized it (which wasn't too painful). The next day, I was a nervous wreck. My mom was pitching at the same time, but to a different agent and she seemed much more calm about the whole thing. Of course she's already pitched to a couple of editors and had a request from TOR Publishing for the first 50 pages of her book. Me? I was falling apart at the seams. 

So after waiting nervously in the hall, I was called into the room. The agent was young, probably late twenties/early thirties and seemed friendly enough. I made it through my pitch without stumbling too badly. Because this conference is relatively small, we were given an unprecedented 10 minutes with the agents. My pitch only took two or three minutes which left a lot of time for feedback. The first piece of feedback she gave me? Publishers aren't interested in dystopias anymore. Seems they flooded the market after the success of the Hunger Games and now they are seriously backing off. My small bubble of hope evaporated. 

HOWEVER, she continued, she personally loves dystopias and the fact that mine is a metaphor for the current issues swirling around the U.S. with Citizens United and the push for deregulation, she thought my book could prove worthwhile. <insert extreme adrenaline rush here> She asks me to send the whole manuscript to her as soon as it is finished. 

So, with a time frame of two months and two thirds of the book left to finish, it's time to get to work. 

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