Author Topic: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?  (Read 5136 times)

Offline Sigrid

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NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« on: February 25, 2011, 08:39:32 AM »
In mid-March, there's something called a Pitch Conference held in NYC, where you can pay $600 (!) and have the privilege of pitching your novel's premise to four different legit (apparently) editors from major publishing houses. The conference includes workshop help to help hone your pitch, and of course may include networking. Agents may be hanging around, though probably not the best ones. All this comes from the description at http://nycpitchconference.com/index.htm. I had never heard of this until recently and wondered if others have had experience with it or opinions. The skeptic in me smells more than a whiff of exploitation, and yet, there are opportunities here. Really not sure what to make of it. The web site of course touts the successes,  and claims there's a 1 in 3 chance that your book will be read by acquisition editors, which sets off my alarm bells. Curious to see what others think.

Offline Jim W

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2011, 03:11:20 PM »
This is just me...

But unless you are a good salesman and have excellent people skills, it's hard to get noticed at conferences.  Personally, a conference doesn't play to my strengths--I'm friendly enough, but I've had sales jobs, and I've sucked at them.  So I'm not good at pitches.  Paying $600 for entry to a conference like that seems like a lot of money and time for something you could do via email or snail mail with a query.  Unless you're a natural salesman, it's just as likely you'll give a negative impression as a positive one.

All that said, some people have success with in-person pitches.  Some of the people mentioned on the website sound great, but that 1 in 3 success rate sets my off my scam alert system too.  That's way too high to be true.  You might want to check up on them at Writer's Beware and P&E, just to see if there's been any complaints.  They say they've been around a while.  Check the most recent Guide to Literary Agents and see if they're listed in the conference section.  They're pretty good at screening out the scams. 

Their webpage seems like a lot of high pressure salesmanship.  Usually these things don't have to advertise quite so ... enthusiastically.  But then, I'm paranoid and cynical.  $600 is a lot of money.  That's a pretty good new computer, a very fancy laser printer, or a lot of postage.  I'm a writer on a budget.  I spend very frugally.

On the other hand, I've heard of the Algonkian Writer's Workshop.  This might be on the up-and-up...
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 03:13:34 PM by Jim W »

Offline Sigrid

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2011, 09:28:54 PM »
Yeah, the whole thing struck me as paying to learn how to do something that an agent is supposed to do for a living---in other words, much better than me. And if you read the comments carefully from attendees, you see that you get only about 5 minutes with each editor. Hardly worth the money, unless the agent game hasn't panned out. But at that point, you might as well self publish on Amazon's Kindle list, and try to make a buck.

There's another, similar conference sponsored by GrubStreet.com in Boston, at the end of April. For one part of it, bluntly titled Manuscript Mart, you can pay $140 to have an agent read twenty pages of your manuscript and discuss it with you. Lots of respectable agents, too, all somehow violating (or sidestepping) that "no reading fees" mantra. It conjures, I must admit, images of a literary brothel....

Offline Jim W

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 11:06:11 PM »
Quote
It conjures, I must admit, images of a literary brothel....

LOL, Tobias.  I couldn't put it better.  But to defend the conference/workshop circuit, and to give the other side a fair shake, some people do get a lot out of it.  There are success stories involving the conference format.  People can and do connect with agents and publishers at such places.  Some folks learn and thrive in such environments.  I've heard of people getting invaluable feedback that helped them turn their writing around.  So it isn't all bad.  But I'm not one of those people who'd do well there.

And if you have any inkling that you might not feel comfortable selling to the pros (and that's what you'd be trying to do), or any other reservations about the format, it may not be the best place for you either.

And $600 for a few days?  I spent less than that on a semester long sci-fi writing class/workshop with a published spec. fic. author, and got three hours a week for five months.  And it cost a heck of a lot less.  (Although maybe not these days.  Tuition hikes are frightening.  I haven't paid tuition in more than a decade, so maybe it's about the same.)

Offline CharmingLil

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 04:08:58 PM »
LOL. I can put this in perspective. I've paid a lot more at some conferences and received far less, and paid less and received even less.  Most of the conferences I've been too, from Zoetrope to Pima, are pretty much the same, including sitting down with a group of people who read my ms and don't know what they're talking about while the "moderator" sits there like a stone. Then a couple panels where I hear the same old "follow your dreams" stuff and hook your reader, and so forth.  In 2008 I attended the event you're talking about here, received two requests for the full ms and two partials, and turned the novel around from the first page as a result of accurate reactions and discussion with the editors and workshop editor, and from observing editor reaction to other writers.  Only problem being I'm *still* rewriting, so boo hoo.  I hope they haven't forgotten me?

As far as "smelling" anything, the air was clean and fresh in all the studios.  Seven of our group of sixteen got the nod for fulls or partials from one or more editors, so that's even more than one third. I can't speak for all the other groups, but I know most of them rushed the ms out the door, some without even making the changes they learned they needed to make--which is rather self-defeating.  The amount of ms requested depended on the editor, of course.  One out of three feels right.  Keep in mind a screening process is in place and the talent per head was better than any group I've been with at any other conference, plus the pitches are at a high frequency of focus. At the average writer conference, one out of three would be impossible, I agree! 

Didn't see any agents hanging around and don't see where the website says anything like that? Tina Wexler of ICM has been known to be there on special invitation and she is top notch.  I think she was even a group leader one time, but not at my event.

I recommend it, quite frankly.  As far as time with the editors, it depended on the editor, but it was between ten and fifteen minutes.  The pitch is honed to a minute, and what is left is ample time to zero in on issues because the editors are so sharp and don't waste time.  You get to ask questions, and you learn to keep it tight.  We learned the story and premise flaws very quickly.  I also learned plenty from the group pitches, the other writers, and the workshop leaders, and did not feel a minute was wasted.

That's my take from personal experience.  Not trying to contradict, just provide some facts.  But the bottom line, you have only yourself at the end of the day, and regardless of the conferences, it's a lonely business, and always harder than you think.  Maybe one day I'll finish this thing!

Peace.



Offline CharmingLil

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Interview with Pam Binder
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 04:14:04 PM »
http://nycpitchconference.com/interview-PamBinder.htm

The above is one of a bunch of interviews with writers and authors who have been to this fest and I've found these to be very similar to my experience.

Enjoy!

Offline Elizafaith13

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference: Opinions?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2011, 06:54:48 PM »
In mid-March, there's something called a Pitch Conference held in NYC, where you can pay $600 (!) and have the privilege of pitching your novel's premise to four different legit (apparently) editors from major publishing houses. The conference includes workshop help to help hone your pitch, and of course may include networking. Agents may be hanging around, though probably not the best ones. All this comes from the description at http://nycpitchconference.com/index.htm. I had never heard of this until recently and wondered if others have had experience with it or opinions. The skeptic in me smells more than a whiff of exploitation, and yet, there are opportunities here. Really not sure what to make of it. The web site of course touts the successes,  and claims there's a 1 in 3 chance that your book will be read by acquisition editors, which sets off my alarm bells. Curious to see what others think.

you would be better off going to the Backspace con in NYC, it's $550 for two days, but that includes workshops with top agents. I've heard great things about it. I signed up : ) and I can't wait!
Broken Forest~YA Fantasy~Curiosity Quills Press: May 2013

http://www.elizatilton.com/