2015 Conference 10-minute Agent Pitches

The 10-minute elevator pitch provides you the chance to present the idea of your book the way you would if you were on a slow elevator ride with an agent or publisher. Your job is to learn how to pitch so compellingly that the agent or publisher tells you to send the entire manuscript for consideration of representation.

Conference attendees have the opportunity to sign up for a 10-minute pitch session with two of the three literary agents FREE of charge. Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to members of Hampton Roads Writers. Come prepared to pitch your project.

Mark Gottlieb's focus on publishing began at Emerson College, where he was a founding member of the Publishing Club, later its President, overseeing its first publication and establishing the Wilde Press. After graduating with a degree in writing, literature and publishing, Mark began his career with the Vice President of Berkley Books (Penguin), working with leading editors.

His first position at the Trident Media Group literary agency was in foreign rights, selling the books of clients around the world. Mark later worked as Executive Assistant to Robert Gottlieb, Chairman of Trident, with responsibility for organizing/managing diverse authors and their complex business transactions. He next assumed the position of audio rights agent. Since Mark has managed the audio rights business, the annual sales volume has more than doubled. Mark showed great initiative and insight in identifying talented writers. While continuing to head up audio, Mark is building his own client list of writers. He is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available to Trident.

Mark is looking For: FICTION – African-American, Comedy, Humor, Comix, Graphic novels, Historical, Horror, Literary, Mystery, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Fantasy, Western, Women’s literature; NONFICTON – Arts, Cinema, Photography, Biography, Memoir, History, Pop culture, Entertainment, Travel, World cultures, True crime, CHILDREN’S and Y/A, Middle grade, Young adult, and New adult.

Heather Flaherty, a literary agent at The Bent Agency, represents authors who write children's, middle grade, and young adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as select new adult fiction, and pop-culture or humorous non-fiction. Her path to literary agent began in the editorial department at Random House in the UK. That's also where she became a YA and Children's Literary Scout, which finally landed her back in NYC, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood in search of the next big book.

Heather is looking for YA fiction across-the-board, though her heart sways toward issue-related YA with humor and heart. She also loves hard, punchy, contemporary YA that has no hesitation when it comes to crazy. She's also always up for contemporary stories with Sci-Fi or Fantasy elements, as well as clever re-spins of old or classic tales. Finally, she enjoys really good horror and ghost stories, though not the gory-for-gory's sake or overly disgusting ones. That said, the one thing she loves above all else in a YA novel, regardless of sub-genre, is a strong and specific character voice--a real person, not another “everygirl.”

As for the Middle-Grade she wants it stark, honest, and even dark; either contemporary or period, as long as it’s accessible. She is also looking for coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories (adult issues seen through the child’s POV). It's okay with her if these stories haveg slight magical or fantasy elements, as long as those elements are subtle.

In New Adult, she wants to see story, not just romance and/or erotica. A New Adult book should be a great YA novel only for an older audience.

On the non-fiction side, she's looking for strong teen memoirs about overcoming crushing situations.

Melissa Edwards, a literary agent agent at Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency, is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School. She is a member in good standing of the New York State bar. While Melissa began her career as a commercial litigation attorney, she always maintained aspirations to work in publishing. At present, Melissa handles foreign rights and is actively reading to develop her own list.

Melissa's taste ranges in genre from classic Victorian literature to hard-boiled crime dramas. She is interested in reading international thrillers with likeable and arresting protagonists, light-hearted women's fiction and YA, female-driven (possibly small-town) suspense, and completely immersive fantasy. Ultimately, Melissa is looking for a book that will keep her glued to the couch all day and night, and continue to occupy her thoughts for weeks later.

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