Pitch Sessions with Agents

Seize This Rare Opportunity To Present Your Book Proposal to a Literary Agent! These one-on-one sessions are available only with a Full Conference Package registration. Your full conference registration entitles you to pitch sessions with two agents.

Click here for additional pitch sessions ($35us each).

Guidelines for pitching your proposal and for requesting appointments are published HERE. Please read the Pitch Guidelines carefully before you sign up for appointments. This is not the time to run an idea past an agent; you must have a complete proposal ready.

This Year’s Agents

The following agents will be present at our 2012 Conference:

San Miguel Writers' Conference - Andy RossAndy Ross

Andy Ross Literary Agency: Andy Ross is a legend in the book industry. He represents Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Mason, Michael Parenti, Paul Krassner, and many others!

Andy Ross has been a literary agent since January 2008.  Prior to that, he was the owner of the legendary  Cody’s Books in Berkeley, California for 30 years.

Andy is actively seeking  to represent books in narrative non-fiction, history, current events,  science, journalism, literary and commercial fiction,  and young adult fiction. He represents books in other genres as well.

Andy has served on the faculty of numerous writers conferences and has conducted workshops on writing non-fiction book proposals and working with a literary agent. Andy is a member of the Association of Author Representatives (AAR).

I opened  my literary agency in January, 2008.  Prior to that, I was the owner for 30 years of the legendary  Cody’s Books in Berkeley. The agency represents books in a  wide range of subjects including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, religion,  children’s books, young adult,  middle grade, literary and commercial  fiction, and cooking.

I am eager to represent projects in most genres as long as the subject or its treatment is smart, original, and will  appeal to a wide readership. In  narrative non-fiction I look for writing with a strong voice and robust narrative arc. I like history, science, journalism, and books that tell a big story about culture and society  by authors with  the authority to write about their subject.

I am also seeking projects in all areas  by scholars who are at the top of their field and who are committed to writing in style and content for a general audience.

For literary, commercial, and children’s fiction, I have only one requirement–simple, but ineffable–that the writing reveal the terrain of that vast  and unexplored country, the human heart.

Website: www.andyrossagency.com;
Blog:   ”Ask the Agent”  www.andyrossagency.wordpress.com


San Miguel Writers' Conference - Jeff KleinmanJeff Kleinman

Jeff Kleinman is a literary agent, intellectual property attorney, and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC, a New York literary agency.  He’s a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (J.D.), the University of Chicago (M.A., Italian), and the University of Virginia (B.A. with High Distinction in English).

As an agent, Jeff feels privileged to have the chance to learn an incredible variety of new subjects, meet an extraordinary range of people, and feel, at the end of the day, that he’s helped to build something – a wonderful book, perhaps, or an author’s career.  His authors include Garth Stein, Eowyn Ivey, Robert Hicks, Charles Shields, Neil Abramson, Bruce Watson, Neil White, and Philip Gerard.

Nonfiction: especially narrative nonfiction with a historical bent, but also memoir, health, parenting, aging, nature, pets, how-to, nature, science, politics, military, espionage, equestrian, biography.

Fiction: very well-written, character-driven novels; some suspense, thrillers; otherwise mainstream commercial and literary fiction.

No: children’s, romance, mysteries, westerns, poetry, or screenplays, novels about serial killers, suicide, or children in peril (kidnapped, killed, raped, etc.). www.foliolit.com/jeffkleinma


San Miguel Writers' Conference - April EberhardtApril Eberhardt

A self-described “literary change agent,” April Eberhardt founded her own agency in order to assist and advise authors as they navigate the increasingly complex world of publishing. As readers and publishers choose among the many ways literature is being delivered in the new millennium, authors need a literary agent who understands both the traditional and electronic marketplaces, along with the evolving options for agent-assisted independent publishing.

April works with serious authors who recognize the need for professional support, and the importance of publishing in the highest-quality way, be it traditionally or independently. Agent-vetted manuscripts help independently-published authors stand out from the millions of others, and contribute to raising the bar for independent publishing, garnering recognition and sales for those authors who understand and commit to “self-publishing, done right.”

Manuscripts presented in person at literary conferences, including the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Vancouver, the Words & Music Festival in New Orleans, the Aloha Writers Conference in Maui, the San Miguel Writer’s Conference in Mexico, the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in Seattle, the Willamette Conference in Portland, OR, and the Houston Writers Guild Conference, will be given first priority.

After 25 years as a corporate strategist and consultant, April Eberhardt joined the literary world as head reader for Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine, followed by five years as an agent with two San Francisco-based literary agencies. She holds an MBA from Boston University in Marketing and Finance, a BA from Hamilton (Kirkland) College in Anthropology and French, and a CPLF degree from the University of Paris. She represents clients worldwide, and divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris. www.aprileberhardt.com


San Miguel Writers' Conference - Penny NelsonPenny Nelson

Penny is an agent with Manus & Associates Literary Agency and is looking for non-fiction titles tackling current events, social issues, lifestyle trends, self-help, natural sciences, sports, and very selectively–memoirs.

Penny brings to her her authors many years in both publishing and in the media.  She got her radio start at NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and went on to become an award winning public radio producer and host.  In 2002, Penny turned her producing skills towards publishing and joined the team at Manus & Associates as a literary agent.

Along with agenting, Penny remains on staff at the NPR affiliate KQED in San Francisco.

Penny offers her clients a strong sense of what the current reading public wants, what the media wants, and how to capitalize on what new trend is right around the corner.  And, she believes sincerely that any topic can be made fascinating with amazing writing and storytelling skills, with a solid platform, and a savvy strategic approach.

A sampling of books and authors Penny represents includes:  Where War Lives by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Paul Watson (Rodale), The Jesus Machine by Dan Gilgoff (St.Martin’s Press), The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine (Hyperion), Total Engagement by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read (Harvard Business School Press), The Anger Solution and The Half-Lived Life by John Lee (Da Capo and GPP), Se Habla Dinero by Lynn Jimenez (Wiley), The Biker’s Guide to Business by Dwain Deville (Wiley), What’s a Mother (in-Law) to Do? by Jane Angelich (Simon & Schuster), The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling (Perigee), The Message of You by Judy Carter (St. Martin’s Press), The Practicing Mind by Tom Sterner (New World Library), Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? by Rob Lehman and Julie Metzger (Sasquatch Books), I Dare Me by LuAnn Cahn (Perigee), The Forest House by Joelle Fraser (Counterpoint),

Pitch Session Times

Pitch sessions will be scheduled during the following times:

Thursday, February 14           3:30 to 5:15
Friday, February 15                3:30 to 5:15
Saturday, February 16            3:30 to 5:15
Sunday, February 17               3:30 to 5:15
Each pitch session will be 10 to 15 minutes long. You many pitch to two agents as part of your Full Conference Package. Pitches to additional agents are $35 usd each. Pay this at the time you register. Be sure the agent or agents you select represent the genre of book you are pitching.

To schedule an appointment with an agent or agents, send an e-mail to our Services Coordinator, Carole Schor at seashorewrites@yahoo.com. Appointments will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

In your e-mail, tell Carole

1. Any of the above times you are not available. If you are available at all these times, write “Available at all times.”

2. The agents to whom you would like to pitch, in the order of importance to you. We will schedule you with all the agents you choose if possible.
Carole will write back to you to tell you your appointment time or times.

Please read the following guidelines carefully before requesting appointments with agents.

Guidelines for the Agent Pitch Sessions

Why a Short, Pithy Pitch?

It is important to understand that agents receive hundreds of proposals every week. That is the reason that you must spend time, energy and creativity figuring out how to entice an agent in a very few minutes. You need to hone and hone your pitch so that your most distinctive and intriguing points leap out at the agent immediately. Remember, if the agent loves your project, he or she will have to pitch it in just as short a time to a publisher! And then the publisher to the bookseller, and the bookseller to the reader! As you perfect your pitch, you will be able to use it for back copy on the book, on talk shows, and to many potential readers.

Perfecting your short presentation can be the difference between a successful pitch and a “no thanks.” It is a great place to spend time.

For fiction, it can be a challenge to summarize a complex plot, and create a synopsis. There are websites and books that help you do this. But also talk about why readers will be excited about this book. Relate it to current events, to a current bestseller, or to something you can demonstrate that the public likes.

For non-fiction, a useful formula is:

• Why is there a need for this book? What information do readers lack? What is the pain readers or society is experiencing? What’s the problem? Where is the void? Use a dramatic statistic, a one-sentence eye-opening anecdote, or a shocking quote by a famous person.

• How will your book supply this information, resolve this pain, eliminate this vacuum, fill this void?

• How is your book different from every other book on this topic? What is your book’s original contribution?

• Why are you the best person to write this book?

Here is a useful exercise: Pretend you are to be on a talk show, and write the five or ten second promo blurb for the show. “(Your hot blurb) – Tomorrow on Oprah!” – Why should everyone read this book? Who will be interested in this book, and why? Emphasize the distinctive contribution your book will make, the novel twist.

We have provided a Suggested Outline for your Pitch Session below.

What You May Pitch

Pitch sessions are an opportunity for you to present a completed project to an agent. This is not a time for you to run an idea for a book past an agent. If you pitch a book and the agent is interested, you need to be able to send a complete proposal (non-fiction) or manuscript (fiction) right away.

If you are sitting next to an agent at lunch, then you may discuss an idea for a book, if the agent seems open to this. But that is not the purpose of pitch sessions.

Do your Research

Don’t ask the agent what she is looking for. Research the agent ahead of time and pitch only to those who represent your genre.

Practice your Pitch ahead of time.

Don’t use cue cards or read from a script. You need to know your book well enough to speak coherently about it for 10 minutes. You may want to memorize your opening three or four sentences, because they need to be very tight, compelling, and convincing. But try not to sound memorized.

Be relaxed, normal, and friendly. Pretend you are telling a friend about your book project. Don’t put on any special airs because it’s an agent. Be excited about your book, and convey your excitement and passion about your project.

Bring a one-sheet with you.

It should state clearly

• your name

• your contact information

• the title of your book

• the genre

• a short paragraph summary of the book

That way, you have something to leave with the agent if she asks for it. Usually, the conversation will end with the agent saying, “This is not something that fits my interests,” or “I would like to see the full proposal” (non-fiction) or, “I would like to see the first 50 pages” (fiction.) Be sure to ask if the agent wants to receive it electronically. That’s almost always true these days, but check to be sure.

Do not ask for the agent’s card. You should have all his or her information from the research you have done. It is definitely okay to ask if the agent would like a one-sheet.

Agent Pitch Session – Suggested Outline


1. “Hello. My name isXX.”

2.  “My (specify the genre as specifically as possible) book is entitledXXX.

Don’t just say fiction or non-fiction but literary fiction, sci-fi, YA, self-help, business advice, memoir, etc. Be very specific.)

3. “It is written in the style of XX.” Or, “It is a cross between XX and XX.” Or, “It is X meets Y.”

It helps agents to think of a general category of book, and it is a good idea to associate your book with well-known best sellers. You want to establish a general framework here and demonstrate your knowledge of the genre and current literature in the field.

5. In about five or six sentences, describe the main points of the book or summarize the story.

What you want to emphasize here is how your book is distinctive from every other book on this topic. Why does the world need one more book about this? Who will be interested in this book, and why? Emphasize the distinctive contribution your book will make, the novel twist.

5. “I am the only person who could write this book because                                      .”

Describe your unique qualifications with regard to the topic of your book and any previous writing, published works, and awards. (If you don’t have any, don’t worry. Agents are looking for new talent.)

6. “I am in a good position to market and promote this book because                       .”

As you may have heard, publishers are looking for “platform,” that is, your public profile. Have you offered workshops? Do you have a website, a radio show, a popular blog? Are you a speaker or teacher with a following? Do you have a large e-mail list? Are you a member of a professional association?

Again, don’t worry if you don’t have much of a public platform (but do start thinking now about developing one!) Do not spend too much time on this in your pitch, but if you have excellent marketing tools or know-how, it’s good to mention. If you have nothing remarkable or unusual to offer, omit this step.

7. My (manuscript, proposal) is complete and is                     words.

Or give the status of the manuscript or proposal. Generally, non-fiction books can be sold on the basis of a (superb) proposal. Fiction requires a completed manuscript. Unless you are 90% finished, you should not be pitching.