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 We're Jeni Chappelle and Melissa Koberlein. We're on a mission to explore the world of publishing with some amazing women.

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Indie Chicks Season 3 podcast for websit

EPISODE 10, Season 3 - Pitching at Conferences

In episode 10, Melissa and Jeni talk to literary agent Kelly Peterson about pitching at writing conferences.

To watch the video, click the image below

Or listen to the audio podcast here: EPISODE 10 Pitching at Conferences.

Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! I’m Melissa Koberlein, an author and professor of publishing, and she’s Jeni Chappelle, a freelance novel editor.

Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice.

On this episode:

We’re talking about how to pitch at conferences

End with an author tip of the week

This week we’re joined by Kelly Peterson. Kelly is an agent at Rees Literary Agency. She understands the importance of family, community, and kindness in an industry that sometimes seems robotic and distant, so she strives to surround herself with other publishing professionals who aren't afraid to be themselves. The family atmosphere extends to her clients, where she's carefully selected the talent on her client list with the understanding of kindness, patience, drive, and support. Because of this, The Fellowship was born into existence and continues to thrive.

Welcome Kelly...

Here's the Q&A

What do you like about going to conferences and meeting writers? Why should writers attend a conference?

I love meeting people, providing hope for writers, and helping authors fight their nerves by just being a real person. Giving advice on panels and first pages is so fulfilling too. There are so many reasons for writers to attend conferences. They're great places to get advice, whether that's workshops, pitches, or panels. Conferences can help writers overcome their nerves too, as well as meeting and networking with industry professionals and other authors. It's also a great way to meet beta readers and critique partners!

Can you talk about the different formats for pitching at a conference?

It’s hard to say there is a specific format, as we all have to find a way that works for us. However, there is a bit of a template/guidelines to help, and once you have them down, you change it to fit yourself.

1. Start or finish with Query Generics – Title, Age Range, Genre, Word Count, Comps

2. Who, What, When, Where, Why?

  • WHO is your main character?

  • WHAT is their goal?

  • WHEN does it all blow up in their faces? (Inciting Incident)

  • WHERE do they find themselves after?

  • WHY is this important for us and your character?

3. What are the stakes? Internal and External!

4. What could happen if they fail?

Pitching in person should be like a conversation, give and take, leaving time for questions at the end!

What are some do’s and don’ts for pitching a literary agent at a conference?


-State pitch generics (genre, age range, title, word count)

-Keep your pitch under 2 minutes

-Know your genre and age ranges and be confident in where your manuscript could fit in these genres and stories!

-Have index cards or a written outline or pitch if it helps you

-Have business cards for your writer self! For those of us who don’t take notes, I write quick outlines on business cards if I like the pitch or person!

-Be confident and passionate about your story and your book

-Be open to criticism, and feel free to ask more specific questions should you receive advice or criticism about your story or pitch from an industry professional

-Feel free to have a question session with an agent instead, but state up front that you’re not there to pitch them but that you’d like to just chat and get more insight to the industry. We like these because it allows us to help and talk more than just taking pitches!

-Finish your manuscript before pitching, even if it’s not fully edited. FINISH IT!

-Send your manuscript to agents who request it within a month (so we don’t forget about it!).


-Talk the entire time of your pitch

-Bring paper materials (besides business cards) to give to agents. We don’t like getting manuscripts and books!

-Wear sweatpants

-Put down other authors or people in the industry, or even your own genre and age range! (I wrote this to stick it to the man and improve the industry that sucks right now because I hate everything I read!)

-Read you pitch directly from a piece of paper. Know your story well enough to just have a conversation about it.

-Pitch before your finished (unless your doing a critique/advice session)

-Get angry when we say it’s not the right fit for us. If you fee yourself getting angry, stand up, shake their hand, and say thank you for your time and walk away.

Advice for writers who are ready to pitch their manuscripts at a conference?

-Come prepared! Practice your pitch at home with trusted friends and family. It’s more nerve wrecking to tel your story to those you love than a stranger!

-Agents and editors are people too, and we want to work with people we feel we connect with on a professional and personal level, because we don’t want to work with people who cause us anxiety and stress. So be yourself and if it’s a fit, it’s a fit.

-You’re going to be nervous, and it’s totally fine. Everyone around you is nervous. We’re all introverts, and even as industry professionals, we never know what’s going to happen when someone sits down in front of us. You’re going to be nervous, everyone around you will be nervous, just manage your nervousness the best way you can. :)

-DO YOUR RESEARCH on the agents and editors available before signing up to pitch. Find the right fits for you before committing, because you’re wasting everyone’s time if you pitch someone who doesn’t rep your genre and age range!

Tip of the week:

Plan to attend at least one local writing conference in your area this year. Even if you’re not ready to pitch an agent or editor, you’ll network and learn so much from the faculty presenters.

On our next podcast, Jeni and Melissa are talking with writer, Raquel Miotto. We will also have another Tip of the Week. And don’t forget where to find us! Find our podcast at or follow us on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on iTunes. Please rate us! You can follow us on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or And now you can subscribe to our YouTube channel too!

So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books. Thanks for listening!

Indie Chicks out.

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