Good Pitch. Bad Pitch.

By: Jeff Herman

Setting: A generic writer's conference somewhere in America, filled with the usual suspects: Inbred coastal agents and editors; white bread middle Americans (Nixon's Silent Majority); the proverbial "fringers" who will give everyone else something to talk about. The agents/editors sit and maybe listen to dozens of writers; while the designated writers sit, talk and maybe listen to the handful of agents/editors. Below are the beginnings of pitches that capture attention, followed by ones that risk immediate nullification. Warning: The material is partially contrived and not relevant to anyone who is dead or dying, and isn't for anyone who won't like reading it. Jeff Herman, The Literary Agent Next Door, to at least two households.

Good pitch: I've read and heard so many amazing things about you as an agent . . .

Bad pitch: Here, read this.

Good pitch: If I wasn't already married, lesbian and a recovering neoconservative, I would . . .

Bad pitch: More than 50 agents already rejected me.

Good pitch: I really respect your brilliance.

Bad: I really don't care about getting published.

Good pitch: I feel so blessed to have your attention.

Bad pitch: I've been trying to get someone to read this for more than 29 years.

Good pitch: Can I get you a cold drink or cup of coffee, even though it will eat into my allotted time?

Bad pitch: S%&t, they don't give us much time.

Good pitch: So how do you feel about the conference?

Bad pitch: It's my grand-mammy's autobiography about farming in Delaware during . . .

Good pitch: I would love your job.

Bad pitch: It's like Grisham and King combined into literary meat grinder . . .

Good pitch: Every agent and editor I've met so far is interested ( avoids defining "interest")

Bad pitch: No body here likes this.

Neutral pitch: Mets or Yankees?

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