AgentFest at ThrillerFest 2011
The second part of Thrillerfest was AgentFest, which was conducted on Thursday afternoon, 7 July 2011. The purpose of AgentFest is bring together thriller writers looking for an agent to handle their stories and agents looking for writers who could be attractive investments.
I am an aspiring writer. I do love to write thrillers. But like every other author, I recognize that it is bound to be a slow process. Like a finely crafted plot, escalation from newbie to best-selling author is a journey to be undertaken with patience and persistence.
From the standpoint of agents interested in thriller writers, AgentFest provides an excellent opportunity to interview as many as 30 writers. Agents are largely compensated based on their commission from sales of manuscripts and ancillary rights. Accordingly, decisions on the writers in whom to invest their time and energy are critical for the agents’ own economic success. Betting on writers is a lot like investing in race horses. There is no sure fire way to find the next J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, and both of them surely had mountains of rejection notices.
In my case, I had an agent with a fine reputation for one year and he then went in-house. Accordingly, I was delighted to participate in AgentFest this year. I did so last year and plainly learned from the experience.
The process spans 2.5 hours with a brief break in the middle. The format is like speed-dating, with each session lasting 3 minutes. Some were faster (where there was little or no interest on either side) and others somewhat longer. There were 65 agents in attendance this year. Their names and biographical information are available on the ThrillerFest 2011 website.
My strategy was to select the agents who seemed to have interest in my type of story (international thriller). Rather than seeing as many as possible, I tried to be patient, waiting in lines as needed to go down my list. I practiced my pitch to get it down to no more than 30 words, which could be said calmly in just a few seconds. Like the opening of a story, success comes from securing the hook early.
My pitch for Dust Scenario: The global economic order will collapse unless a mother and an Aborigine ex-commando can free her children, kidnapped by instigators of the attack to prevent her from revealing the truth.
I was delighted with the results. I pitched to 12 agents, 8 of whom requested a synopsis and portions of the manuscript that I pitched. I also got a lot of fascinating feedback of the concept of the story. I am continuing to revise the manuscript and will send in the requested portions when I have been through it a few more times. In a future blog, I will discuss the writing learning that I derived from ThrillerFest this year. A critical element of the learning is to relentlessly edit and hone the manuscript so that readers turn the pages with their own relentlessness.
I am constantly amazed at how much I have to learn, and how exciting it is to do so.
You can read PART ONE here.