Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Agent Pitch Quest

Monday was a pretty good day overall. I drove down to Portland (3 hours one way) and got to the hotel where the Agent Pitch was being held just in time for lunch. We ate at the top of the Top of the East Lounge which overlooks all of Portland. It was really hazy for mid-winter's day, but sunny and temps in the mid-30's. Warm for us here in Maine.

My first pitch began at 1:10 so Dan and I headed back downstairs after we ate, and waited for the agents to return from their lunches; hopefully, rejuvenated from the break.

The gong (yup, a real gong!) sounded and I walked in with both of my books and the manuscript for Double Vision. I sat across from the first agent and we chatted for a minute before I let loose my spiel on her. She asked me what I wrote and I told her a paranormal historical adventure.

Perhaps I was mistaken, but I think her eyes may have crossed. Genre-bending is NOT what agents want to hear, and I've taken bending to new heights.

I didn't waste my seven minutes on her because right off the bat she told me she couldn't help me. She had no idea who would publish such a tale. "There's no way to market it," she said helplessly.

It's not like I haven't heard that before. It's the basic reason no agent will talk to me. Marketing is the entire reason an agent will take on an author. A story must be marketable.

It's not to say mine isn't marketable, it's just a bit of narrow-mindedness on publishers balking at creating a new market.

So, anyway, the gong sounds and I move onto the next agent, who tells me—nearly verbatim—the same thing. Only she actually looks at my books and reads a little, tells me I can write, and she loves my covers, but can't help me, either.

To say I was discouraged may have been an understatement, but I had 2 more agents to try and convince, so I moved on.

I took a seat across from a girl who was young enough to be my daughter (all right, there's more and more who fall into that category!), but she grabbed for my books and excitedly began reading the jacket text and browsing the innards. "These are great!" she said. I was instantly hopeful. "I don't have the contacts for such a trilogy, but my partner does." She gave me her partner's email address and told me to say that she recommended me. Yeah! Interest!

The gong rang and I headed for the final agent. She was very much like the young agent, only closer to my age, but just as excited. She told me her partner would love the story and actually asked to take both of my books. She would send them to her agent partner and he'd get back to me. I'll follow up in a few weeks to be sure he received them and has indeed looked at them.

So a 50% acceptance rate wasn't bad. Now, if they'd both express interest in representing me, I'll have spent my money wisely.


casey said...

I was wondering about your speed dating and when it was. I actually think you should consider that a success at a 50% approval rating! It sounds to me that there is indeed a market out there if their "partners" would be interested in the genre. Good things are coming, but I guess you already knew that!! It's just WHEN, dammit.

Mary Duncan said...

Casey, I definitely consider the event to be a success! Out of the hundreds of rejection letters saying they couldn't work with me, having 2 agents want to see my work has me fairly elated!

The "when" part is always the kicker. And I so lack patience...