So I had the opportunity to pitch an agent in person and they requested pages. (Yay!)
But I started thinking whether this was really a good thing.
Seems obvious, right? They requested pages, therefore, it’s a good thing.
This is how it went.
I had ten minutes to pitch this agent. I sat down and they wanted to hear about the book first up. So, I rattled off my little spiel and, at the two minute mark, the agent said, “Sounds interesting enough that I’d like to see pages.”
We had another eight minutes to go, so what else could the agent say but send pages?
“Wow, that sounds like a really sucky idea. It’s not of any interest to me whatsoever.”
Knowing what sensitive freaks writers are, I don’t think any agent worth their salt would do that.
I guess the agent could’ve spent the next six minutes asking probing questions about characters and plot until we were close enough to the end that a rejection wouldn’t result in too much awkwardness.
I suspect that most agents request pages just to be polite. Or they hope for someone who is enough outside what they represent that they can say, “Sounds lovely, but that’s not something I represent.”
This is the pessimist in me talking. But I also spoke to more than one person who had received page requests the five or six times they’d pitched agents/editors and had nothing come of it.
So it’s possible that pitching an agent in person just creates false hope.
I could be wrong. It could be a positive. Maybe the agent, even if they weren’t the least bit interested, will take a quick peek at what I sent and get drawn into the story.
Of course, having this skeptical view of things, I thought that the note the agent wrote on the card (that turned out to relate to what file format to send the document in), was the agent’s shorthand for which pitches the agent genuinely liked and which they didn’t.
(You know. “As a txt” means the pitch sucked and no point reading it. “As a doc” means it’s worth looking at.)
It is good to have that face-to-face time if you’re the type of person that people like.
(I had a friend recommend a writer to me based upon meeting them, who then commented, “I just wish I liked his writing as much as I liked him.”)
An agent or editor might look at someone with decent writing who is likable and give them a few extra points and that might be enough to tip things over to the offer side of the equation.
That’s not really me, though.
I had eight minutes to kill after the successful pitch and ended up showing the agent a picture of my dog because I didn’t know what else to do. (Turns out the agent didn’t like dogs. Oops.)
(Then again, I also showed random people in the elevator pictures of my dog, so…At least those people thought she was cute.)
So, what about people with negative personalities? The type who repel people they meet?
There was a writer there who was rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Just awkward, weird, intrusive, pompous. It was bad.
That author had queried one of the agents there and received a full request before we arrived. All I could think was, “You’d best avoid approaching that agent in person…”
Because, if I were that agent and had seen how this person interacted with people, I would not have wanted to sign them no matter how good their writing was. Not in this day and age.
So, I don’t know.
It’s nice to have someone request pages and maybe getting past the query letter is an advantage if the agent really does read the pages like they would any other partial request. And if you do have a good personality, pitching in person can maybe tip things in your favor.
But it can also give a false sense of hope about a story idea that maybe doesn’t have legs. And it can work against you if you’re off-putting in person.