Welcome to the Thrillerfest V Blog!

We hope you'll bookmark us, just as you bookmark so many of the hundreds of the International Thriller Writers that participate in our annual conference, held in New York City in July.

ITW is a youthful organization, always ready for a new way of looking at things. You'll find that dynamism here, in blog posts from authors, agents, editors and Thrillerfest attendees, past and present.

And that same excitement you feel from your favorite reads is evident in everything ITW does, and no wonder--the organization, staffing and publicity for ThrillerFest--including this new blog--is undertaken by volunteers, most of whom are ITW authors themselves.

So pull up a chair and stay awhile ... discover the latest news on what Thrillerfest V--the fifth anniversary of the conference--has to offer. Visit old friends, make new ones, ask questions, and hear about the remarkable things in store for the conference.

Whether or not you can come see us in New York--and we hope that you can!--please join us here. It's gonna be ... a thriller!

Kelli Stanley, Thrillerfest Publicity Committee Chair

Thrillerfest Publicity Committee:
Jeannie Holmes
CJ Lyons
Carla Buckley
Grant McKenzie

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pitching an agent at Thrillerfest: The Good, (and Perhaps not so Good) News. Part I.

I spent last week in sunny Florida, talking to a film maker who is also an unpublished writer. He’s working on a third revision of his novel, and we were discussing the process of pitching the finished work to an agent. I told him about the “elevator pitch” where one distills one’s entire novel into one or two sentences. He shook his head and shuddered as he drove the car, because he’d been forced to engage in that process to pitch some of the screenplays he’d written. (Apparently he was successful, because a documentary film was produced based upon his screenplay). It got me to thinking about how to pitch an agent, and what goes through one’s mind while doing it.

First, the good news: in my opinion, the agent wants to be able to say "yes." I realize this is not everyone’s opinion of the agents’ intent, and perhaps not yours.

“Sure” you say. “I’ve written sixty-four agents and not one has said yes.”

Okay, I agree, it can get discouraging, but let me tell you a story I heard from an extremely reliable source–my mother. My mother is an actress in movies. Successful movies, with Jim Carrey, Kevin Spacey, you name it- (her stage name is Judy Clayton). Along with the successes has come an endless series of rejections for an equally endless number of reasons. All bug her to a certain extent, but she continues going to auditions, because if she doesn’t audition she will never get a role- it’s that simple.

Once she sat behind a casting director while he conducted the casting for a major motion picture. As the various actors came before him to audition, she heard the Casting Director mutter under his breath: “Come on, you can do it. Okay, a little less motion, more depth, that’s good.” He was rooting for every actor, despite the fact that he knew only one could get the job and he’d have to reject the rest. She said it helped her to realize that Casting Directors, some famed for appearing outwardly unmoved, were sweating right along with the actors, and that it wasn’t the actor that was being rejected, just his or her suitability for the role.

I think it’s the same for literary agents. She (or he) wants to say yes and represent your story to a publisher. As you sit down, imagine her muttering “come on, you can do it,” while listening to your pitch. Keeping this idea in the forefront of your mind while pitching may help you get through that initial nervous stage. At least it did for me when I was engaged in the pitching process.

Now for the bad news, which is not news at all for most of us who have been on the writer’s side of the pitching desk: She may end up rejecting the manuscript. However, if she does, it is likely for a myriad of reasons, none of which may have anything to do with the merit of the work itself. Like the casting director, she may have a list of criteria in her head for the manuscripts that she wants to take on, and this one doesn’t match that personalized list. Fortunately, at Thrillerfest, there are a large number of agents attending the Agentfest portion of the conference. If one says no, just move on to the next and to the next, until you get the role of published writer. We’ve all been there, and we’ll all be rooting for you!

Jamie Freveletti
Running from the Devil--May 5th

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