“Should I pitch in costume?” and other serious questions.

Sasquan is coming up, fast. I really wish I was going, but (insert excuse here) so I am (insert lamenting phrase here). Lame, I know. It promises to be a very special event with the high lords of Science Fiction all descending on one place together. 2016 will be my year. Moving on.

If you are going to Sasquan or a future WorldCon, ComicCon or other similar Genre focused convention there is certainly an opportunity to pitch your novel. Many agents and editors attend these conventions often to promote a new release, do some research, or just to be fans. A few will participate in organized panels about publishing and there is often a pitch session or pitch slam contained within the event.

Of course these conventions are also awesome opportunities to show off your costume skills and totally geek out with other fans. So if the opportunity comes up, should you pitch your novel in costume? This is a serious question. I wouldn’t want to run back to my hotel room to change out of my Speed Racer, Optimus Prime, or C3PO gear to put on a clean shirt and wash my face, but I also wouldn’t want to make the wrong impression on someone who could change my career.

My friend, Victor and I had a serious conversation about pitching in costume one night.

“I think you should get a replica of the sword from your manuscript ‘The Traveler’s Blade’, make a set of dragon wings and a man dragon cowl and do your pitch in costume!” I was really excited about this idea. “You could come into the pitch slam, raise your sword over your head and point it at the agent of your choosing, saying in a loud voice ‘You are deemed worthy!’.”

“And then I’ll be tackled to the floor and arrested.” he replied.

“It will be memorable. You can open all your queries with ‘I was the man dragon who was taken out of the pitch slam in handcuffs’.” I quipped.

“That isn’t the kind of impression I want to make.”  He replied soberly.

I still love the idea of pitching in costume, especially if your writing speculative fiction, but Victor is right, this isn’t the impression you want to make. (For the record he pitched in a very dapper button down and flat front pants, no sword, no wings, no cowl). If you want an agent or editor to look at you like a professional writer, act like one, and dress like one.

What is more important than how you dress, is how you feel. When you are pitching to an Agent or Editor you want to feel comfortable and confident. That might mean you are cool and confident in jeans and a T-Shirt, or it maybe you need a three piece suit to feel right. Either way is fine.

That said, WorldCon may be the exception to the rule. If you are pitching a new book about AstroBoy and you are dressed in a costume from that world you would probably earn some street cred. What do you think? Post your comments below.

Here are a few other tips when pitching at these types of conventions:

  • Sign up for pitch sessions early. They will fill up fast, and if you don’t want to miss a seat at the table.
  • Check to see if the agents or editors you hope to query / pitch will be attending. Some agents will post or tweet about the conventions that they attend each year. Others may not give any information out until the convention itself. Twitter is a great place to look for that information, or their websites / blogs. Important insider note, some Agents or Editors will hold private pitch sessions not posted in conference schedules. You may have to Twitter-stalk them to find out.
  • Find out more about who/what the Agent or Editor is promoting at the conference. If they are there to support another author, go check them out. Even if you don’t meet the person you were hoping to you will probably learn something about their tastes and expectations.
  • Look for opportunities to come up and say hello. Agents are people too. That doesn’t mean you should open with ‘I have an amazing book that you are going to love to represent’. Just introduce yourself and start an honest conversation. Let them know that you are an aspiring writer and you’d like an opportunity to talk with them about your book. The Agent or Editor will let you know if there is an appropriate time to connect. If you are lucky, them might invite you to pitch them over a cup of  coffee or on line to the next session.

One thought on ““Should I pitch in costume?” and other serious questions.

  1. Excellent advice. “I was the man dragon who was taken out of the pitch slam in handcuffs”–that would be a heck of a way to open a query, though. Maybe I can try this out at WorldCon.


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