A (Teeny) Guide To Pitching To Agents In Person
1) DON'T PANIC! DON'T FREAK OUT! OH GOSH THEY ARE ONLY THE GATEKEEPER STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DREAM! YOU CAN TOTALLY TALK TO THEM AND NOT PASS OUT/VOMIT/FORGET WORDS.
Okay, okay, okay. Take a breath. Even if you're nervous, don't let fear stop you from pitching. The first time I pitched, I realised my hands were shaking ^^; The extremely lovely agent said I came across as quite calmly... Er, conceal, don't feel? ;)
Sometimes, even if you're terrified, you have to go do the thing. This is your dream, and pitching in person is such an amazing opportunity. DO NOT GET IN YOUR OWN WAY. Go! Do it! Spoiler alert: agents are people too. They are not going to bite your head off.
2) Be enthusiastic! Remember how much you love your book and how exciting the creative process was. This is an amazing opportunity to introduce your work and yourself to someone who could help you take the next steps.
3) Do your research. Chances are you know who you're going to meet in advance, so check their agency page, any interviews they've ever done, their social media presence (if they have one) and make sure they'll be interested in what you have to offer.
4) If you're going to pitch a book to them, make sure you can summarise the plot quickly and neatly. And if you can't, this may be a sign your plot needs some smoothing out. I didn't memorise a specific pitch, but I made sure I could talk about the book's highlights. And I was so enthusiastic, I talked with my hands, all the way down to miming my main character tweeting from a smart phone. Yeah.
5) I didn't take printouts of my querying materials with me. Plenty of other people did. I figured if I had a request, I'd send out an email. In other words, this is totally up to you. Just don't be surprised if you take out a bunch of print outs and take them all home again.
6) Don't walk in expecting to get an offer of representation out of it. Stay calm, stay focused, and stay realistic. The agents I spoke to gave me such brilliant advice I feel I have a much stronger manuscript now. As for representation, ah, the search continues ;)
7) Pitching to an agent in person doesn't mean you're subsequently obligated to send your work to them. If you felt they didn't get your book, or thought it was something other than what it is, don't query them. You want your agent to champion your book after all.
8) Enjoy it! Not only can you meet agents, you can chat with loads of other unrepresented writers, too! HELLO NEW FRIENDS :D