So, last Friday night I put on my uncomfortable-but-smart shoes, and headed into London for the SCBWI annual Agents Party with the hope of successfully pitching myself and bagging a fabulous agent! The pool of agents willing to represent picture book authors who don’t illustrate was very small, but still worth a shot. I’d heard recently that it is much more likely to hook an agent if you’ve had the opportunity to meet them in person first, so living as close to London as I do, it seemed foolish not to go along. Plus my original critique partner – whom I’d never actually met in person – was going to be there, which was all the more reason to go!
And yes it is actually true – agents are lovely people! There they were, giving up their Friday night to make small talk and give helpful advice, all the while completely besieged by hopeful authors firing pitches at them from all directions. It was quite a different picture from the one so many of us unpublished authors have – that of the aloof agent, sitting sternly and superiorly behind their desk, sending out rejection after rejection. I hadn’t been sure what to expect – it sounded like there were a lot of people going for such a small group of agents, but it looked as though everyone got their chance to pitch to the agents of their choice.
I managed to be one of the first to speak with one of the two agents I wanted to speak with. I’m not sure that it was an advantage however, I don’t think either of us were fully warmed up at that point, and while she was lovely and we had a nice chat, I doubt very much that I made a lasting impression on her. This particular agent had a long queue of people waiting to see her the entire evening, so its now down to my submission to make an impression.
My second encounter felt more successful however. The agent was also really lovely, and very warm and approachable. Again, it will come down to the quality of my work, but perhaps in this case, I might have been more memorable in person.
I was expecting to be more nervous than I was, but like I said – agents are lovely people! There were still cases of nerves – people botching their carefully rehearsed pitches, another person forgetting their trump card of already having an offer of publication (not once but three times!), and in one unfortunate case, not being able to remember the name of their book when the agent asked! But on the whole, I think it really was a mostly very positive experience for all involved.