How to Pitch your book in Person to an Agent: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Getting the opportunity to pitch your novel in person to an agent is a fantastic opportunity and not one to be wasted. Usually, you would have maybe ten minutes to talk to an agent about your novel, hooking their interest and giving the agent the chance to ask you questions about it. So, much planning and practice are needed. I have put together some articles and YouTube videos with some tips to consider.


A pitch is basically an oral version of a query letter. You tell the agent the basics of your book (title, genre, length), what it’s about, and then a little bit about you. The Write Practice shares 4 tips including, summarise your book into one sentence, getting to the point quickly, and strategizing how best to use your few minutes: do you want to focus on the plot, the characters, or yourself? Remember that this is a human interaction. The key is to project enthusiasm and confidence and allow your energy to guide you.


In the heat of the moment, nerves can get the best of even the most self-assured writers. This article is written by a life coach and she shares 5 techniques to help you feel more confident, prepared, and relaxed when the time comes to pitch your work in person. Practice is the obvious one. The more comfortable you are with your own words, the more easily they will come rolling off of your tongue. She advises you to understand your reactions to stressful situations and put measures in place to deal with them. Remember that agents are professionals who are hopeful that you are bringing them just the thing they are looking for. They don’t earn a living without stories. Take control of your brain. You can train it to rewrite the negative thought you may be having to remove the anxiety. For example, you can change ‘I’ll never get an agent,’ to ‘I don’t know if I’ll get an agent, but I’m thoroughly prepared.’


Writers need to understand that agents attend conferences with the same high hopes that writers do. Writers want to find an agent who will represent them, and agents want to find clients who have a book they can get excited about. The agent/author relationship is that of a partnership where each party has the same goal in mind; to sell the book to a publishing house. So, see the agent more as an equal. Read up on each of the agents. What authors do they currently represent? Are any of the books similar to yours? Don’t waste their time pitching to them if you know your project isn’t a good fit. You need to become an expert on this person. Be prepared to explain your story in one sentence. You don’t need to tell them the synopsis. Make it authentic, as if you were talking to a friend. There is no need to jump straight into your pitch the moment you sit down. Make a little small talk first then pitch. You want to entice the agent to ask you questions about different elements of your book and begin a conversation. Come with questions too. Professionalism counts so make sure you dress appropriately, in job interview-type attire. It sets the tone and lets the agent know you understand that publishing is a business and you are serious about being a professional writer.


The Nelson Agency offers 10 practical tips for pitching to an agent which like other articles recommends practising your pitch but also warns against reading off a piece of paper or memorising your written pitch. While you need to know what to say, it must come out naturally, and be sure to make eye contact. Don’t talk the entire time, give the agent space and time to ask you questions, and have paper and pen ready to note down their comments; you may not remember them later.


This is an interesting article from a literary agent and it covers some questions that you should be ready for. The obvious one is what is your book about? Don’t use this time to explain the entire intricate plot of the book. Treat it as though you are reading the blurb from the back of a book. What have you read in the genre recently? Not having an answer for this is a big red flag. Make sure you know and read widely in the genre you write in. What’s your life like outside of writing? Make it interesting.


Jane Friedman tells you to be prepared. Come up with a 30-60 second pitch for your novel using one of 3 methods that are shared in this article. Keep it short and stop at a moment of tension and wait. Let the agent guide the discussion and demonstrate that you are open to feedback, this shows that you can work together. Bring questions with you that if answered would help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your project or position. Don’t focus so much on the yes or no but on the biggest benefit of the pitch experience, which is getting instant feedback on your project.


Hope Bolinger is an author and literary agent so she understands the view from both sides of the table. She shares valuable tips on pitching so that you can learn how to present your work professionally and with confidence.

Writer’s coach, Teresa Funke, shares her tips on how to nail those agent pitch sessions and walk away with an invitation to submit your work.

Pitch Sessions are an unnecessary evil at nearly every writer’s conference, a ‘write’ of passage if you will. In this Fireside Chat with Jessica Faust, they discuss the truth of what pitch sessions offer and how writers can make the very best of their 10 minutes with a literary agent.

Remember that literary agents are looking for both great book ideas and to work with great people. So, it’s important to note that the perfect pitch isn’t always enough, an authentic personality is needed too. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Be yourself and don’t let nerves get in the way of your opportunity to sell your book. I hope this week’s column has been useful for you. As always, if you have any topics you would like me to cover then please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get all of the latest from delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured books