Pitch Sessions

2017 Schedule

2017 Speakers

2017 Agents

Agents at the Writers’ Institute

The Writers’ Institute offers you direct access to accomplished literary agents who are looking for both fiction and non-fiction related materials. You have the opportunity to pitch your ideas to these established agents via 8 minute pitch sessions. See tips and instructions below.

Agents Amelia Appel, Noah Ballard, Elise Erickson, Paul S. Levine, Kim McCollum, Michelle Richter, Steven Salpeter, Dr. Ewe Stender and editors Kira Henschel and Ben LeRoy will be present to take your pitches. Please visit the agents’ page for detailed information about their backgrounds and agencies and plan accordingly to pitch your materials to them.



                               NO REFUNDS FOR DROPPING PITCHES ONSITE

                               YOU MAY ADD A PITCH ANYTIME & PAY BY CREDIT CARD OR CHECK


Please see our agents’ wish lists on the agents page.
Sign up for your agent pitches when you register.



Returning this year, our Thursday Kick-off Sessions:

Beginning at 3PM on Thursday afternoon, conference director Laurie Scheer will present Pitch Your Best Pitch Pitching Workshop. Sure you’re nervous about your pitch and that’s why we’re offering a special pitching workshop on Thursday afternoon before the pitching fun begins. Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer offers the industry’s best advice for writing loglines, synopses and other pitch related materials. Additionally, practice pitches are conducted for everyone to observe. You’ll also receive a list of resources to gather information to make your pitch the best pitch in the room. This workshop is being offered after overwhelming demand from last year’s attendees. Prepare your pitch, arm yourself with information and awareness of your genre – pitch your best pitch at this year’s conference beginning here. This event is $15, the evening’s events are included with your registration fee.

This is followed by these two sessions (fee is included in your registration) on Thursday evening presented by two of this year’s agents:





In this session you will learn all about what constitutes a professional query, how to pick your agent and what you have to look out for in that process, the Agency agreement, pitfalls of publishing contracts, and all matters re: the business side of writing.

These Thursday events are a good way to break the ice and move wholeheartedly into this year’s conference. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to gather this great information from expert agents.




Spend an hour with an agent discussing various topics in the publishing industry. These 1 hour casual sessions with each of the agents and with our two editors combined are $10 and space is limited.  Sign up when you register.



Personal Practice Pitch Sessions (Friday through Saturday afternoon)

We are offering continuous opportunities for you to practice your pitch through Practice Pitch Sessions. At past Writers’ Institutes these have been very popular and they are 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 industry experts Jeff Kurz, Sue Roupp, Mare Swallow, and Kristin Oakley. Deliver your pitch, receive feedback, continue to perfect your pitch and then see your agent and provide a stellar pitch. No need to be nervous (or at least these pitch sessions will help put you at ease just a bit). To participate in a personal practice pitch session, see the registration form.



One-on-one pitch sessions with agents—tips and instructions:

1. Sign-up

2. Do I have to have a book done before I can pitch?

3. What happens in a pitch meeting?

4. What is the usual follow-up procedure for writers who have pitched agents at the conference?



• There are pitching opportunities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the conference.

• There is no limit as to how many pitches you can give. Call 608-262-2451/ 800-725-9692 now to reserve your spot or register online.

• You must be registered for at least one day of the conference to qualify for a pitch meeting.

Free Document: How to Avoid Writing a Mediocre Text/How Do I Establish My Own Brand?

As a thank you for being a part of this year’s Writers’ Institute, we will send you How to Avoid Writing a Mediocre Text/How Do I Establish My Own Brand? prepared by conference director Laurie Scheer. This document addresses ways to improve your material and outlines your path to establishing your writing brand.


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.”

• Please don’t bring your manuscript with you, but you can bring along a one-page synopsis or notes. 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 (ex. 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 four to six weeks’ time 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. If you don’t hear anything in four weeks’ time you can probably assume it’s a pass, however, it would not hurt to follow-up with the agent and/or their agency.

PLEASE NOTE: Every agent operates their business in different ways.  UW Madison Continuing Studies writing department is not responsible for how the agents choose to run their business.  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.

Questions? Contact director Laurie Scheer, 608-265-3972, laurie.scheer@wisc.edu or Laura Kahl, 608-262-3982, laura.kahl@wisc.edu