But just in case. . .
Here's a list of four things you might not want to do at an agent panel:
1. Not pay attention and ask a question that's already been answered IN DEPTH. And then proceed to ask a series of follow up questions making agents repeat their IN DEPTH answers.
2. Ask a question that's actually a thinly veiled pitch for your book. For example:
Writer: Um, okay, so like, my dad was a famous dragon slayer in the 80s and 90s--and I'm writing a non-fiction novel about how he didn't want to marry any of the princesses he saved. Can you even believe it?!? I'm also writing a nonfiction tell-all about my time as an extra on the set of The Simpsons and I totally made out with Bart...So I guess my question is... what's the best way to let you know about what I'm writing?
Yeah. No. I mean, I can't speak as an agent (why? because I'm not one, obvi) but as a fellow writer in the same panel, I now pretty much hate your guts.
Okay. Dislike you.
Okay. Am annoyed.
Because: Unless the panel is titled "Everybody Pitch Now" (clearly to the tune of C+C Music Factory's Everybody Dance Now) panels aren't the place to pitch an agent. Plenty of conferences have agent pitch sessions that you can sign up for. And sometimes agents linger after their panels, for you to speak with them privately then. I don't know if those times are times you should pitch or not, but they're better than in a room full of people who want answers to real questions that will help more than just one person.
3. Ask an agent if you can send them your query even though they've just said they don't rep what you write. For example:
Agent: I absolutely 100% do not represent fiction.
Writer: So. . . I know you don't represent fiction, but I have this amazing YA paranormal. Can I query you anyway?
Agent: . . . *crickets*
Because: Here's the thing: a LOT of times agents will make exceptions for conference goers. As in, they'll open up to queries if they're currently closed. But I've never heard of one opening up to queries for things that they absolutely do not represent. And, think about it. Why would you want them to? Don't you want an agent who loves what you write? Who has contacts at publishing houses based on previous sales with your genre? Also, other writers will
4. Disagree with an agent's answer in a condescending way. Por ejemplo:
Agent: Right now, most publishers pay authors 25% royalties for e-book sales.
Writer: No. You're wrong, you idiot. My friend told me blah blah blah...
Because: Welp, it's just plain rude. Didn't you ever learn your manners ? No? Well then. You should know that the agent's right and you're misinformed and you look like a big beyotch. (I will say: this is different from asking follow up questions. I think those are fine because sometimes things aren't easily explained/understood on the first go-round. Or maybe that's just because I'm blonde.)
PS All examples are exaggerations of things I've seen recently. Except the part where the agent says e-book sales are at a 25% royalty rate right now. That's something I heard from an agent at VA Festival of the Book this year.
QOTD: What's your favorite word today?