PitchFest 2011 was the first time I had ever pitched anything to professionals in the business. I was told I had a good pitch. But I was a little shaky telling the story after my one-liner.
I managed to pitch my thriller to seven agents. Of those, three asked for partials and two asked for full manuscripts. Most of these agents replied pretty quickly and gave thoughtful feedback, but nothing panned out.
Then a few months later, PitchFest sent an e-mail to attendees informing us that the Marisa Corvisiero Agency was accepting queries exclusively from ThrillerFest attendees. (Marisa was supposed to attend PitchFest 2011, but couldn’t make it at the last minute.) Of course, I sent in my query and sample chapters. Then they asked me for the full manuscript.
I got an e-mail asking to meet me via Skype, and Corvisiero agent Stacey Donaghy offered me representation for my thriller, THE SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS.
ThrillerFest taught me the importance of the pitch, and I also got crucial feedback that caused me to change the ending of my novel—to something much better.
Next stop: publication. I’ll keep you all posted.
I signed a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press. My wonderful agent, Stacey Donaghy, worked tirelessly for a year to place to book and finally succeeded. Stacey now runs her own agency, The Donaghy Literary Group, so this was a great start for both of us. This was indeed, a storybook ending. PitchFest has changed my life.
As I write this, my thriller, THE SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS, is in the top-ten in Amazon Crime Fiction next to some luminaries of crime writing. It is also #1 in the category of Kidnapping, #2 in Serial Killers and #2 in Vigilante Justice–behind Lee Child. It broke the Top 100 in Kindle. I am now a best-selling author–the culmination of many, many years of work, but I can’t imagine how long it would have taken without ThrillerFest. I got my wonderful agent through ThrillerFest and rewrote a weak ending on the advice of ThrillerFest mentors who knew that a heroine had to get herself out of a fix without the cavalry. So if I can give some advice, it would go like this:
1. Condense your pitch to 30 words or less.
2. Make an effort to get a freelance editor to go over your MS. In addition, an editor often has connections with people in a position to open doors if you have a worthy book.
3. Be prepared for rejection. David Morrell began one of his CraftFest talks with this sentence which was seared into my brain: “You have to want this more than life itself.” Take those words to heart.
4. Always have queries out there looking for an agent.
5. Finally, take advantage of every single opportunity. I got my agent via an email inviting me to send in a query. What if I had said, “What are the chances THIS is going to lead to representation?”
Now go forth and publish.