Q. Hi. I have a 5-minute appointment scheduled with a New York agent at a writer's conference. With only that much time, would you suggest I get right to the novel or should I start with my credentials and condense the story to a pitch line and a quick overview. I'd like to skip the amenities and get the story in, but I don't want to seem too abrupt or rude.
A. Glenn, five minutes is plenty of time to do everything you need. When you're talking about the book (the pitch), you shouldn't need more than about a minute and a half to pitch a novel, and maybe two minutes for nonfiction. After that, you can start talking about your credentials and accomplishments and platform. The whole thing should not take more than three minutes. I suspect most people practice their speech beforehand but still have it too long and sprawling. Boil it down; skip the nitty-gritty details. If you pitch your work in three minutes (max), you allow two minutes for discussion and follow-up questions. As far as how the order works, I would suggest jumping into the book pitch first, then getting to your credentials second.