Virtual ThrillerFest XVI • June 28 – July 10, 2021 • Now Online!

Virtual ConsultFest FAQ

Q: What exactly is Virtual ConsultFest and when is it?

A: Virtual ConsultFest will take place on June 30 and July 7, 2021. Sessions will be scheduled (all times are Eastern – as if we were actually in NYC) from 9 am to noon and 1 pm to 4 pm, in 20 minute time slots. In 2019, we created ConsultFest for writers who weren’t yet ready to “pitch” a completed manuscript, and for agents and editors who had great information to share but didn’t want to receive pitches. (Similar to the “no pitch zone” with agents and editors we established to accommodate experts who didn’t wish to receive pitches). ConsultFest allows new writers and emerging novelists to access industry expertise and advice on how to better prepare themselves for the presentation of their work—that “pitch”—and established authors to get advice on career path options and publishing from experts in the industry.

To more appropriately focus PitchFest towards its original intent—an opportunity for writers with a finished manuscript to pitch their work to an agent or editor for representation or sale—we created ConsultFest.

Q: Should I attend ConsultFest or PitchFest or both?

We know your time is valuable and advise all writers to balance their writing time with the many facets required in our industry, including marketing, selling, growing business, craft, brainstorming, and carefully choosing every turn in the career path. PitchFest offers to help you network with the industry’s top selling agents and editors in very short bursts, hopefully making that special connection that will lead to a sale of your work. ConsultFest offers more time with the experts to perfect your manuscript or query letter, improve the marketability of your writing, or even answer career path questions.

If You Are A: Then You Should Attend:
PitchFest ConsultFest
Writer with Completed Polished Manuscript to Sell X
Writer Not Yet Ready to Sell a MS and want Advice X
Writer Wondering if the MS is Ready to Pitch X
Writer Seeking Help on Query Letter X X
Writer Wanting to Check Out the Process Before Pitching Next Year X X
Self-Published Author Seeking Traditional Publisher X X
Self-Published Author Seeking Advice on What to Do with Self-Published Work X X
Self-Published Author Seeking A Sale of Movie Rights (Producers don’t always attend PF. Check website for confirmations) X
Self-Published Author Seeking Career Advice X
Published Author Looking for A New Agent or Editor X X
Published Author Seeking Advice on a New Manuscript X
Published Author Seeking A Sale of Movie Rights (Producers don’t always attend PF. Check website for confirmations) X
Published Author Seeking Career Advice X

Q: How is ConsultFest different from PitchFest?

A: PitchFest is designed to connect writers who have a completed, polished manuscript with eager agents and acquiring editors and producers. The event connects writers with agents and editors who might offer representation or buy their manuscripts. The goal is to produce success stories of writers becoming published authors.

ConsultFest allows 15 minutes with industry experts who can offer advice on how writers might consider improving their craft or their approach to agents and editors. Our goal is to better prepare writers to be ready to pitch someday. As one agent suggested about the inaugural event in 2019, “ConsultFest offers connection with hope” while PitchFest is all about making that connection.

Q: Will the same industry experts at ConsultFest be attending PitchFest?

A: Some editors and agents choose to attend both ConsultFest and PitchFest, although the majority choose one or the other. The editors and agents who want to meet authors with completed and polished manuscripts ready for sale attend PitchFest to hear your pitch. If they like your pitch, they’ll ask for a partial manuscript to review your writing and determine if they can take your novel to market.

At ConsultFest, a writer commits NOT to pitch to the editors and agents, instead asking for advice. It’s not that these agents and editors aren’t looking for talent, too, they just don’t want to hear a pitch. Instead, they’d prefer to review your query and/or manuscript pages and advise you on your work. ConsultFest offers an opportunity for the agent or editor to meet authors and review writing samples in advance. This allows many industry experts who prefer not to “hear pitches” to offer valuable advice to inexperienced writers and still have the opportunity to find potential talent at ThrillerFest.

Because the two venues are so different, some of our experts like to experience both opportunities.

Q: How long is my time with an industry expert, and what does it cost?

A: Writers pay $75 for 15 minutes of consulting time at ConsultFest with the best editors and agents in the industry who will give advice on either of the following:

  • • Advice on a one-page query letter where the topic of the 15-minute discussion between writer and consultant is about tips to improve the writer’s approach to an agent or with an acquiring editor, OR
  • • Advice on the first two pages of the writer’s manuscript to discuss how the writer could improve his or her craft before approaching an agent or acquiring editor.

Q: What do I get out of a consultation?

A: We can promise you will get as much out of the consultation as you put into it. We’ve designed this event for you to solicit advice on:

1) how to better pitch your work to an agent or editor via a query letter,

2) how to improve your chances of selling your manuscript through a critique of the first 2-pages, or

3) things you could do to better guide your career path. We suggest you prepare questions to ask the experts in advance.

Most writers who have participated in this event are amazed at how much help they receive in a short session.

Q: What do I have to submit to attend ConsultFest?

A: To be eligible for a consultation, writers must submit the following documents by June 1st:

  • 7-pages in a Word document titled with writer’s name (ie: “Jane Smith”) which includes:
  • A one-page query letter addressed to “Dear Agent/Editor:” single spaced, letter format, 12-point font, 1” margins.
  • The first five pages of a manuscript (NOTE: only two-page-critique guaranteed), double-spaced, 12-point font, 1” margins noting writer’s name at top and working book title.
  • A one-page synopsis of a novel or non-fiction work, double spaced, 12-point font, 1” margins.

Only one submission is required for any number of consultations you choose to purchase. When you register for a consultation, we will ask you whether you’d like to have advice on your Query Letter or on the first two-pages of your manuscript. If you sign up for more than one consultation, you can choose how many agents/editors will review the letter or the manuscript pages. We will let your advisors know.

Q: Can I request the expert to focus on the query more than the manuscript or on the manuscript more than the query?

A: When you sign up for a consultation, you can decide which document you want the experts to review—and you will choose if you want help with your query letter or on the first two-pages of your manuscript. If you sign up for more than one consultation, you can select how many agents/editors will review the letter or the manuscript pages. We will let your advisors know.

Q: Can I pitch my work to the agent or editor at ConsultFest?

A: We ask that you commit to NOT pitching your work at ConsultFest. Most of the experts who volunteer their time for this event would prefer not to hear pitches and expect you to honor that preference. However, if they ASK you to pitch them, please feel free, but only if they specifically ask.

Q: Can I ask the expert to give me feedback on both the query and the manuscript?

A: Each 15-minute consultation is designed around either the Query Letter or the first two-pages of the manuscript, but not both.

Q: Why do I have to submit a synopsis, a query, and manuscript pages if I only want advice on something specific?

A: Many of the agents and editors from ConsultFest find it helpful to study your entire package and these various aspects of your work given them a better sense of your project. Some experts will read everything you send in just to give you advice on a single page, and others will focus only on your specific questions and won’t read anything other than that work.

Even if the agent/editor doesn’t review all 7 pages, it is in your best interest to submit the full package. If an expert is interested in your work, submitting all three documents—query, manuscript, and synopsis—would provide them with more of your writing to evaluate.

Q: Where can I find an example of the requested submittal for ConsultFest and the formatting required?

A: Please see submission requirements above.

In addition, here are links to some wonderful advice from experts on…

Q: We learned from previous ConsultFests that there may be some things you are, or are not, expecting.

A: This event was designed to give you expert advice on your work. That’s it. Everything else is gravy.

If you’re ready to hear honest, direct feedback from agents or editors, this is the event for you. If not, you will probably walk away disappointed. Even if your writing is stellar, you can always learn something new.

Whether or not you agree with the advice you receive, please don’t argue with the experts about their opinions. It’s fine to clarify your intent or offer more information if it helps the expert understand your work in more detail, but arguing with them about their advice will just frustrate both writers and experts. Invest your time wisely and redirect the conversation with a pre-planned list of questions.

Remember, a writing journey is all about differing opinions on the same body of work.

Q: How do I sign up for ConsultFest?

A: When you register, you will be eligible to sign up for as many as five consultations. The matching of writers to experts will take place in May and you will receive instructions and a link to the scheduling software when it becomes available.  If you have already registered, simply email the registrar at registrar@thrillerwriters.org.

Q: Can I get the expert’s contact information to communicate with him or her after ConsultFest?

A: Sometimes the agent or editor shares their contact information and sometimes they don’t. At ITW, we are protective of the experts who volunteer their time to help you, so we do not give out any of their contact information unless they tell us to. Thank you for understanding in advance.

Q: Has anyone ever received representation from an agent or a book publishing deal by attending ConsultFest?

A: Absolutely! A side benefit to connecting writers with agents and editors at ConsultFest is that sometimes the expert finds a writer particularly interesting. Connections certainly do happen, and the agents and editors are just as excited as you are when that happens. Their job is to find you, that special talent, so be the best version of yourself at ConsultFest.

Q: If I’ve already registered for ThrillerFest events, how can I sign up for ConsultFest or PitchFest or both?

A: If you have already registered, simply email the registrar at registrar@thrillerwriters.org. Sign up for as many consultations as you choose and we will assign you to experts as long as we have spaces left. See you in June & July!

And one last note:

We love coordinating these events for our attendees, but please be patient with us—we’re all volunteers.