Agents and Editors can be a tough bunch. There were about 20 of them at the conference and they had the rough job of being on panels and interviewing hundreds of authors, all of whom wanted to be published. Most of them were under 40 and some, it seemed, no more that 25. There are four major Publishing houses and they provide an umbrella for smaller companies which was where the agents worked.
There was one activity that required an appointment called the 2 minute pitch. At your specified time, you sat in a row of chairs and when the bell rang you were taken into a room with six agents sitting side by side tables. In other parts of the room were five duplicate set ups. The deal was to sit down and be with one agent for two minutes and then everyone in your group would move one place to the right.
Let me say that I can not sell. Sad to say that I once had a nervous breakdown because I could not sell $1200.00 worth of gift and house ware merchandise, for which I had borrowed money from my father. I could not sell precious baby sweaters I had knit, and I could not sell home made dinners from a van in my husband’s law office parking lot, so it was hard to have the confidence to sell something I had written. Selling dinners out of a van I have written off as a concept was too early for the time. When selling house wares that I loved, I would say things to people such as this issss a lot of money, maybe you do not need this.
The reason I write is that I do not talk. So you can imagine my distress when presented with the situation of selling my book six times every two minutes. You might ask, did I practice? Yes, I practiced. Of course I practiced. But I can not memorize. I can not even say the 23rd Psalm without faltering. I wrote it down, and each time the revision was worse than the one before. I decided to punt and go in on my good looks. I started out and the first pitch was passable , and then I was tapped on the shoulder to move on to the next agent. The next agent did not want to hear a thing, especially when she found out that it was a gift book. Yuk! The next one had a few positive thoughts. Then I got to the fourth editor, I could not speak. I could not make the words come out of my mouth. My mouth was filled with wades of cotton clumped in my mouth. The agent was fortyish and a dark haired little beauty. She took my hands, and said, now calm down. Just relax. Take a deep breath and start again. I was able to speak but she never would have known what my book was about because it was as if I was speaking in tongues. I have no recollection at all as to the two final pitches.