success stories

Simon Gervais

Once I was done talking, a few seconds passed where no words were exchanged. Eric finally looked at me and smiled, “Could you send me your manuscript? I’d like to take a look at it tonight.”

When PitchFest came around again, I was ready

The first time I pitched my book was at the 2012 ThrillerFest. I pitched to twelve agents and all of them either requested a partial or the full manuscript. So far so good, right? Not really. I had a problem. My book wasn’t completed. I was still working on the edits. By the time I was confident the manuscript was strong enough to send to the agents who requested it, we were late in January 2013. My gut told me not to send it –the same gut that saved my life twice during my career as a federal agent was telling me to wait until the next ThrillerFest. What did I do? I sent it anyway. 

Big mistake.

Too much time had elapsed since the pitch. Mercifully, I’d only sent one full and one partial. The partial became a full, but the agent finally passed. I was crushed. 

When PitchFest came around again, I was ready, I was pumped but most importantly, I was confident. There was no doubt in my mind I was going to be successful. I knew I had a good, proven pitch that would attract interest. Nonetheless, like every other author who pitched that day, it would be a lie to say I wasn’t nervous. 

The trick is to be prepared. And prepared I was. I had spent the previous two weeks analyzing and researching all the agents who were going to be present during PitchFest. I knew which authors they were representing, the style of writing they preferred, and what genres they weren’t looking for. I’d also practiced my pitch a dozen times facing a mirror and I had recorded myself to ensure proper intonation throughout the pitch. 

So when the go-ahead signal was given at the beginning of the pitch session, I took five deep breaths, then walked purposefully into a room full of literary agents. The first seven agents I pitched to requested material. I felt they were genuinely interested but I didn’t feel a real deep connection with any of them. Ready to move on and inspired by my great start, I scanned the room and saw the waiting line leading to Eric Myers of Myers Literary Management had only six people. I joined the line and consulted my iPhone—on which I had stored all the information about each agent. During my initial research, I had found out that Eric’s reputation within the publishing industry was stellar. If there was one agent in the room I wanted to impress, it was this one. 

I started by telling him about my background as a federal agent within my organization’s counter-terrorism unit and how I landed on the protection detail of numerous heads of state. (Tip: Always start with something that will force them to pay attention to you.) While he was listening to the pitch, I saw him nod a few times. At the end of my pitch, I let him know I had hired a well-known editor to go through my manuscript in order to correct any mistakes that I could have missed. (Tip: Try to conclude with something that will show you’re serious about the craft and the quality of your book.)

Once I was done talking, a few seconds passed where no words were exchanged. Eric finally looked at me and smiled, “Could you send me your manuscript? I’d like to take a look at it tonight.” A few hours later, I was having dinner when I received an email from Eric. To my surprise, he had already visited my website and read a few chapters of my book. He had a couple questions and we agreed to talk more the next day. After exchanging a few more emails, we spoke on the phone and decided to meet on Saturday afternoon. We had a great conversation and we both realized rapidly that we had the same vision regarding my book and my career. We shook hands once again, and that’s how Eric Myers became my agent.

Simon Gervais is the New York Times and #1 Amazon bestselling author of four thriller series, and signed a deal with Putnam to co-write the Robert Ludlum novels. His most recent book, The Last Guardian, was released in 2023, and the TV rights for his Clayton White series were recently optioned by CBS Studios with Jerry Bruckheimer attached to produce.