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

Virtual PitchFest FAQ

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

A: On June 28-29 and July 8-9, 2021, we will host Virtual PitchFest, where you can pitch your novel to some of the best agents and acquiring editors in the business. Each year, we have over 50 agents and editors attending this special event with movie producers attending the event from time to time. Read about the incredible tales of success under the Success Stories tab. PitchFest has become the world’s largest gathering of top agents and acquiring publishing-house editors looking for the next bestseller. More specifically, it’s is an opportunity for writers to pitch their manuscripts to up to seven agents or editors.

Q: How do I sign up for Virtual PitchFest?

A: When you register, you will be eligible to sign up for as many as seven pitches. 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 really find an agent for my manuscript?

A: A number of authors have signed with their dream agent during this annual event, including our former PitchFest Director, Sandra Brannan, who found her agent at PitchFest. Several writers’ manuscripts have also become published works, as you can see in the Success Stories section. Please join us for PitchFest and meet our attending agents and acquiring editors.

Q: Are the attending experts legitimate agents and editors?

A: Our agents and editors are the real deal. They are part of or sell to major publishers around the world, and they are highly respected in the field. They will never charge a fee to read your work, and they will not steer you toward vanity presses. (Which, for those unfamiliar with the term, are companies that will “publish” your book only if you pay them.) Our agents only work with publishers who pay YOU for your writing. All agents who attend PitchFest are either members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), or they have sold to an ITW-approved publisher. Only editors from ITW-approved publishers are invited.

Q: Why do you have agents AND editors at PitchFest? What’s the difference?

A: Because most publishing houses require that work from new authors be submitted through agents, the most common route to publication is for you is to secure a contract with an agent who sells the work on your behalf to an editor at a publishing house. However, if you can get an editor interested in publishing your work at PitchFest, agents might take notice and request to see your work. Some editors at the event don’t require an agent and you have an opportunity to sell directly to them, although this is an exception, not the rule.

Q: Are the agents and editors really taking new clients?

A: Every agent and editor who attends is actively seeking thriller manuscripts, and many are looking for books in other genres, including: mystery, suspense, romance, non-fiction, supernatural, and more. Review the participating bios and photos on the ThrillerFest website to see what the agents are looking for and what they are not interested in. Increase your chances of securing your dream agent by meeting with as many professionals as you can.

Q: When is Virtual PitchFest?

A: Virtual PitchFest will be held on June 28-29 and July 8-9, 2021. The sessions will be scheduled (all times in the Eastern time zone–as if we are really in NYC) from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The sessions will be scheduled in 10 minute intervals.

Q: How does PitchFest work?

A: To prepare for PitchFest, study the bios of the agents and editors before signing up for your individual sessions. After registering for the event, you will receive a personalized email invitation with the link to our scheduling software. You will then be able to select the agents and time slots for your pitches. The schedule will be confirmed in May, although agents and editors will be posted to the website as they commit to the various sessions.

Q: How do I prepare for PitchFest?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. If you are concerned about how to prepare for this event, please attend the agent panel that is part of Virtual X-Treme CraftFest or you can purchase access to the Query Panels from Winter Thrillers/Thriller MBA for insight into how agents and editors view queries.

Q: Is there anything besides PitchFest in which I can participate?

A: ConsultFest, a new event has been added to ThrillerFest week to complement PitchFest. Because so many writers wanted more time with experts to ask advice, rather than pitch a completed, polished manuscript, we created ConsultFest where pitches are highly discouraged. PitchFest is about making connections whereas ConsultFest is more about preparing the writer for an eventual opportunity to pitch.

For writers, MasterClass on Monday and Tuesday provides an excellent opportunity to receive feedback from a bestselling author review who will critique your work. And you can ask all those burning questions.

Also for writers, Virtual X-Treme CraftFest is an amazing opportunity to learn from bestselling authors and experts in the industry.

Q: Do I have to have a completed manuscript, or can I just pitch what I have written so far or throw out an idea I have for a novel?

A: We strongly recommend you have a completed and polished manuscript to sign up for PitchFest, unless you have a non-fiction project. Having a completed manuscript is not mandatory to participate in PitchFest but do your best to have one completed before the event. We know from experience that if agents like what they see, they want to sign you as a client and sell your book immediately to a publisher. You want that, too. They can’t sell your book unless it’s finished. And they may not be as interested months from now when you do finish. So, do your best to type THE END before coming to PitchFest. Pitch your best book. Mentioning to an agent that you have written other books is perfectly appropriate if they ask, and use that when they ask about what other ideas you have considered writing as a follow-up to the completed manuscript you are pitching. Also, feel free to pitch a self-published book although you’re better off pitching a fresh, new idea. The agents and editors love unique voices, new concepts, and books that haven’t already been out on the market. This pitching session is not ‘practice’. This is business. If you want advice on how to complete your novel or whether or not you’re headed in the right direction, please sign up for ConsultFest instead.

Q: Are the agents and editors paid to be there?

A: Absolutely not. They are volunteers. They are investing their time hoping to find great stories written by decent people. The more passionate they are about the manuscript, the easier it will be for agents to sell to editors, publishers to sell to the public. Don’t be discouraged if one of your top priority agents isn’t interested in your story. That does not mean you don’t have the right story. It’s just not the right story for them. Move to the next one on your list.

Q: Whom do we turn to if we have a more specific question about PitchFest?

A: The organizers have assigned me, Jen Kreischer, as the PitchFest and ConsultFest Director. I am a volunteer author who has assembled a team of experts who can help you with any questions or concerns you might have about PitchFest or ConsultFest. And if someone from my team of experts can’t help, contact me at jen.pitchfest.dir@gmail.com. I’ve been involved with PitchFest for several years and volunteer my time to help you. So please know I’m truly here to help you. My whole team is here to help. I’ve asked Samuel Octavius and Kirsche Romo to be your ‘Writers’ Resources’ specifically assigned to answer any questions you might have throughout the process. Sam is a wonderful Assistant for PitchFest and can be reached at samueloctavius.itw@gmail.com and Kirsche is a wonderful Assistant for ConsultFest and can be reached at kirsche.romo@att.net.

Yet be warned: Over years of PitchFests, we have seen how writers who take short cuts or aren’t willing to do the work tend to wash out quickly.The business of writing is challenging and you’ll need “stick-to-it-tiveness” and elbow grease to be successful. A little luck never hurts, of course. Reach out to any of our team members anytime if you have questions. ITW staff and ThrillerFest event volunteers work hard to provide you with the information in advance, but we have other jobs (writing and otherwise) and responsibilities that limit the time we can commit to answer questions. Respectfulness and courtesy are appreciated.

Q: Do people who attend PitchFest actually get representation?

A: Sometimes, but not always. Every year, we have success stories. While there’s NO GUARANTEE that any agent will like your work, the opposite is equally true: they may all love your work.

Q: What’s the worst that can happen at PitchFest?

A: Even if all the agents aren’t interested in your story (which is incredibly rare), going through the process of pitching is still an enormously valuable experience. You will have interacted with top agents, received feedback on your pitching skills, made valuable connections, and learned about the business. And, you’ll be inspired to keeping improving your craft and come back next year.

Q: How do they let me know if they like my pitch?

A: As your session winds down, the agent will either request nothing, a partial or a full manuscript. No matter what they say, always be polite and professional. If your book idea doesn’t appeal to them, perhaps they might have a colleague who will be intrigued.

Q: How long is each pitch?

A: Five to seven minutes.

Q: Should I have a website?

A: A website is not needed at all for pitching. You may want to consider having one anyway, so people can find you easily. If you’re not ready to build a website, at least reserve the domain name you’ll want to use as a writer. That way it’s there when you’re ready to unveil yourself to the digital world. Again, having a website as a writer is not necessary at this stage of your career trajectory, yet it will be needed eventually when you become a published author.

Q: I want to thank the agents and editors but I don’t want to appear desperate or as a suck up.

A: By all means, thank them, and do so sincerely. It’s not sucking up. And it doesn’t sound desperate. It sounds courteous. Everyone likes to feel valued and appreciated, and they are going out of their way to help you sell your book. They could just as easily stay in their offices and work.

Q: How do I contact someone if I have questions about PitchFest?

A: As the PitchFest and ConsultFest Director, I, Jen Kreischer, am a volunteer author who has assembled a team of experts who can help you with any questions or concerns you might have about PitchFest or ConsultFest. And if someone from the team of experts can’t help, contact me at jen.pitchfest.dir@gmail.com. Contact my team members or me directly and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.