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Today we offer another guest post from Dan L. Hays, author of Freedom’s Just Another Word:

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Pitch Meetings With Literary Agents

What is the purpose of a pitch meeting with an agent?  This is just my opinion, but it is primarily a business meeting to try to close a deal for representing a manuscript.

I’ve had five meetings with literary agents at writer’s conferences and they were remarkably similar to meetings I’ve had in the business world over a 30 year career.  Before I went into those meetings, I tried to break down what each of us was there for.  In particular, why would a literary agent attend a writer’s conference and sit through a grueling day of ten minute pitch sessions with nervous authors describing their books?  Answering that question was the essence of understanding how to make that meeting a success.

From my side, I want representation for a manuscript I would like to have published.  It’s tough to get a meeting with an agent, so I want to maximize my time.  The ten minute meeting is the face to face equivalent of a query letter, and I have to concisely convince that agent that my manuscript is of interest to them.  A successful close for me would be at a minimum a request to read the manuscript.  An even better outcome would be a suggestion by the agent to meet after the sessions are over to further discuss my work.

From the literary agent’s perspective, they’re looking for a marketable product – a manuscript that they can pitch to several publishers who might be interested enough to publish, which will make the agent some money.  That’s it.  That’s what they’re at a writer’s conference shopping for.  The agent would like to return home with multiple manuscripts that they can possibly sell to publishers. I attended a pre-conference workshop at the Agents and Editors Conference in Austin on “crafting your pitch,” and the literary agent who led the workshop was very clear in describing the thought process of an agent with respect to the pitch session.

As I sat in my first meeting with a literary agent, as soon as I began to pitch my manuscript, I could see the agent’s brain start to work, first to categorize what I was describing, and second to think of publishers who might be interested.  It was very intriguing to watch. The agent at the pre-conference workshop had highlighted this aspect, suggesting that if a book being pitched didn’t bring to mind at least five or six publishers who might be interested, the agent wasn’t going to be solidly interested.

The second thing the agent is looking for is a manuscript that is as polished and ready for publication as the author can make it.  Again – why?  Because the more ready the manuscript is, the quicker it can be published, and make some money for the literary agent.  Once more, it all boils down to the business part of the meeting.

I look at that ten minutes as a chance to obtain representation for my manuscript, and I want to walk in knowing that I’ve done everything I can to assure that my manuscript is ready for market.  In doing so, I create the potential for a win-win situation where both the literary agent and I have the chance to walk away with a successful conclusion to our business meeting, a conclusion of benefit for both of us.

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ANY CHARACTER HERE

Lost creativity and the effects of family alcoholism are just two of the elements of the story Dan L. Hays explores in his first published book, Freedom’s Just Another Word, which chronicles events around the time of his father’s death. It is the first of a cycle of seven books about healing old wounds with his father. That cycle will culminate with Nothing Left to Lose, written in 1993, about a critical turning point in his father’s life, depicted from a perspective of forgiveness and admiration.

Dan has been pursuing his craft for more than 25 years. His passion has always been writing, but he had a writing block that he could not understand for many years. He wrote two books that publishers were interested in, but he backed away and the books were never published.

Read more of Dan’s work on his blog and at Life as a Human, or follow his various radio features.  You can also catch him on Twitter and Facebook.

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And while you’re at it, catch WriteByNight on Facebook and Twitter, too. We appreciate the support.

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