Agent/Editor Pitch Sessions
Direct access to accomplished literary professionals
The Writers’ Institute offers you direct access to literary agents and one editor who are looking for both fiction and non-fiction related materials. Pitch your ideas to these industry movers-and-shakers in eight-minute pitch sessions. You may sign up for two sessions before March 7. After March 7, if space is available, you may sign up for additional pitch sessions.
Cost for each session is $15. Pitch session days and times in the program schedule»
Agents’ wish list
“What in the world do these people want?”
Every serious writer has asked that question. Now you can answer it! There will be eight literary agents and one editor at the Writers’ Institute, all looking forward to hearing your great ideas. Here’s what each of them specifically will be looking for—and not looking for. Go here for detailed bios and info about their agencies. Know your audience, and pitch your work effectively!
Marilyn Atlas, Marilyn Atlas Management
Marilyn is looking for: women’s stories, fiction that could be sold as filmed entertainment and screenplays.
Marilyn is NOT looking for: horror, supernatural, sci-fi.
Scott Eagan, Grayhaus Literary Agency
Scott is looking for: Harlequin lines, single-title romance and women's fiction in the following genres: contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, women's fiction. Stories must be complete and be in the range of 75,000-110,000 words.
Scott is not looking for: fantasy, single-title inspirational, YA or middle grade, picture books, memoirs, biographies, erotica, urban fantasy, science fiction, screenplays, poetry, authors interested in only e-publishing or self-publishing, works that have already been published.
April Eberhardt, April Eberhardt Literary
April is looking for: fiction, especially women’s book-club fiction, broadly defined.
April shys away from: genre fiction (romance, mystery, thriller) and non-fiction.
Judith Engracia, Liza Dawson Associates
Judith is looking for: fiction—particularly plot-driven literary fiction, realistic middle grade with perhaps just a touch of magic, all types of young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, paranormal romance and soft science fiction.
Judith is not looking for: nonfiction.
Dawn Frederick, Red Sofa Literary
Dawn is looking for: biography (historical, media-related, political), but no memoirs; creative nonfiction; graphic novels (no manga); history (commercial); humor, pop culture (especially Americana and/or quirky); social issues/current affairs (women’s studies, LGBT studies, social sciences); sports (extreme—like roller derby); women’s narratives (chicklit nonfiction, Latina, African-American, and more); YA (fiction and nonfiction—no heavy sci fi or thrillers/mysteries); and middle grade (fiction and nonfiction—no heavy sci fi or thrillers/mysteries).
Dawn is not looking for: memoirs, manga, heavy sci fi, or thrillers/mysteries.
Bree Ogden, D4EO
Bree is looking for: middle grade, young adult, select adult genres (horror, noir, romance, transgressive), graphic novels, nonfiction, humor, pop culture, and art books. You can see a complete list of Bree’s tastes on her blog under “Meet Bree.”
Julie Matysik, Editor, Skyhorse Publishing
Julie is looking for: adult nonfiction in the categories of memoir, humor, parenting, and reference. Also children’s picture books, middle grades (7-12), and nonfiction for ages 3-12.
Julie is not looking for: sports or romance.
Tina Schwartz, The Purcell Agency
Tina is looking for: middle grade Fiction, YA fiction, nonfiction for grade school level and teens.
Tina is not looking for: fantasy or picture books.
Gordon Warnock, Sr. Foreword Literary
Specific genres Gordon represents include: Memoir, Cookbooks, Political and Current Events, Pop-Culture, Humor, Career, Self-Help, Pets, High-Concept Commercial Fiction, New Adult, Graphic Novels, and Contemporary Realistic YA (that means no vampires).
He does not represent: Religious Fiction, Genre Fiction, New Age, Children’s, Middle Grade, Collections of Essays, Short Fiction or Poetry.
Tips & instructions
There are pitching opportunities on Friday and Saturday of the Institute. Each attendee is limited to two time slots when they first register. This policy enables more writers to have a chance to meet with an agent. Register online or call 608-262-2451 or 800-725-9692 now to reserve your spot.
You may call or register online after March 7 for any time slots remaining open. After March 7 there is no limit.
You must be registered for at least one day of the conference to qualify for a pitch meeting.
Free document for all who register: 10 Things to Do Before Pitching to Agents. As a thank you for being a part of this year’s Writers’ Institute, we will send you this document, which outlines 10 steps that will help you plan your pitches at the Institute.
Do I have to have a book completed before I can pitch?
For fiction writers: Please have a completed novel manuscript. Please do not pitch “ideas only.”
For nonfiction writers: Please have a fleshed-out book proposal (includes a brief overview of the book, chapter outline, author statement/platform, and potential market, including what else is already out there and why the market needs your book).
For script writers: Please have a completed script to pitch.
What happens in a pitch meeting?
Agents or managers want to hear about your characters and plot, or nonfiction book in a “nutshell.” Agents cannot read manuscript pages during a pitch meeting because of their professional rules of conduct.
Prepare a one-page, single-spaced synopsis of your entire plot (or short outline for your nonfiction book). This is for you to refer to during your meeting. On rare occasion agents might ask to take it with them. Have your name, email address, and phone number at the top.
Have a great logline—that one-sentence summary of what your book (or other project) is about. Read it out loud before you get here; revise it a couple of times. This logline usually opens the discussion in your pitch meeting. If this is your first pitch meeting and you're nervous, write down the logline and read it from your notes. The agent is here to hear your idea, not to judge you on memorization or presentational skills.
For novelists, and for writers of narrative nonfiction (e.g., biographies and memoir) and screenplays, your pitch meeting might go into more about the structure of the story and the character’s fatal flaw or weakness, strength, and what’s learned by the end. Know your major plot points (also called turning points) in your structure: inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint crisis, climax, resolution. Be able to talk about at least one big memorable scene from your story or project, sometimes called the “set-piece scene.” This is the type of scene that might say “everything” about the main conflict or theme of your book or screenplay.
For all types of nonfiction books, be able to talk about why this book at this time in the marketplace. For novelists and nonfiction book/proposal writers, please know your word count and page count. They might ask for either or both. Good luck!
What is the usual follow-up procedure for writers who have pitched to agents at the conference?
Agents are professionals. They are powerful individuals who can make and break writing careers. Please give them time to properly evaluate your project based on your pitch and the materials you may have provided them. If they are interested, they will be in contact with you.
In general, it is not unusual for three to four weeks to pass after your pitch before you will hear from the agent or their agency via an email or phone call. In some cases, agents are now posting information via social media announcing that they have processed a group of pitches heard at a specific conference or event, and if you did not hear from them, then they are not interested in your project.
Each agent works differently, but if you don’t hear anything in four weeks, you can assume it’s a pass. Please note: Every agency operates its business in its own way. UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writing Department is not responsible for how the agents choose to run their businesses. Agents are guests of our yearly conference and are free to conduct their follow-up business with you, the writer, in any way they see fit.
Practice pitch sessions
General practice session
Thursday, April 11, 5:30 PM only; FREE!
We have a terrific opportunity for you to practice your pitches in a FREE (yes, free) practice pitch session that will take place on the eve of the conference. Settle into Madison’s charm and join us at the Madison Concourse Hotel where the Continuing Studies staff will conduct a group practice pitch session. Receive feedback on your pitch (this is especially important for those of you who are pitching first thing Friday morning at the conference), gain confidence, and be ready to excel with your official agent pitches. This event is a good way to break the ice and move wholeheartedly into this year’s event. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to hone and define your perfect pitch!
Personal practice session
Friday through Saturday afternoon; $10 each
We are also offering continuous opportunities for you to practice your pitch through individual practice pitch sessions. These very affordable sessions ($10, you sign up when you register—no limit to the amount of times you can sign up) will allow for 15 minutes of one-on-one meeting time with our experts. Deliver your pitch, receive feedback, continue to perfect your pitch, and then see your agent and/or editor and provide a stellar pitch. No need to be nervous—these pitch sessions will help put you at ease. To participate in a personal practice pitch session, see the registration form.