Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

What Not To Bring To A Pitch Session?

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Status: Have glass in wine in hand, am good.


What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? LONELY NO MORE by Rob Thomas (acoustic version)


This might qualify as my oddest blog entry yet but I had something happen on Saturday that I’ve never run into before.


A writer sat down for her pitch session and not a minute later, I started sneezing.


From what I can gather, I must have been having a reaction to her perfume (which by the way was not overly strong or anything).


But during the whole session, my eyes started watering and I got the sniffles. Luckily I had a break right after and was able to pop outside to clear my head. When I returned, I was just fine for the rest of the afternoon.


So this probably wasn’t something you had thought of but you might want to forgo the perfume or strong fragrance on the day of your pitch!


33 Responses

  1. Stephanie, PQW said:

    You’re right, it is something that people don’t think about. It also applies to men. I learned this one when I was studying for my board exams, part of which was an oral presentation. The first thing we were told in our sessions was that cologne of any type (male and female) was a definite no-no.

    Not to mention it could be a fragrace that reminds the editor/agent of someone they have an aversion to or a dear friend who died. I would not like to be linked to either person.

  2. Wub2Write said:

    Every now and then, when I get a whiff of someone’s strong perfume, I’ll turn to my husband and apologize for all of the perfume I wore while we were dating. Poor guy!

  3. therese said:

    Please spread the word through the agent and editor network too. It’s possible the writer has a great story to pitch but when she sits down across the table has the same reaction. It has happened to me, where I really wanted to connect with that agent/editor but was so spaced out and affected that I couldn’t keep a straight thought…

  4. Anonymous said:

    I’m very allergic to it, myself, so you have my sympathies.

    I can’t see why it’s socially acceptable to hijack other people’s sense of smell, when you’d never walk into a restaurant or theatre and start blasting music, because you, personally, thought it was pleasant.

    Probably a leftover from when there wasn’t deodorant.

  5. Susan Helene Gottfried said:

    As an asthmatic, I’ve run into this problem many times (the worst was the day at the Hoity Toity Health Club). Know what else can be problematic? Highly perfumed laundry detergent. I don’t know what kind it is, but there’s one brand I can smell from fifty feet. Not good when one whiff is enough to close up some lung passages.

  6. Jane said:

    You might have been allergic to the “love my manuscript” powder she’d dusted liberally across the pages. As with all magic substances, just a little dab will do ya, enough to intrigue but not enough to water the eyes.

    I feel bad though if that happens when a cat-owner is pitching to someone violently allergic to cats (or dogs, or chinchillas, or lizards…). Microscopic bits of dander cling to everything

  7. Kristi Helvig said:

    I’m so allergic to perfume and can relate. I’d rather an agent remember me for my writing ability than my ability to give them rhinitis. 🙂

  8. Nicole L Rivera said:

    Wow. That’s interesting. I know my aunt developed a random allergy to floral scented body splash after her last pregnancy so no one can come around her with it on. Probably best that some conferences don’t allow it.

  9. Tony Keeton said:

    This is something that I’ve never considered, but it makes perfect sense. No cologne at the pitch sessions.

  10. M. G. Pereira said:

    Oh, good. I get to learn two things today. The first of course, no perfume. The second, can someone tell me how a pitch session works and how you set those up and what you do and basically everything?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  11. Maril Hazlett said:

    I second the detergent comment. So MANY things have strong scents – also including shampoo, lotions, soaps, etc. – that even non-perfume-wearers (hmm, that doesn’t flow) need to be careful. You might still smell, and not like deodorant.

    If I ever have to pitch to someone allergic to dogs and/or cats, I’m doomed.

  12. Kristin Laughtin said:

    It’s the same with business interviews, and it’d be helpful to think of pitch sessions in the same way. They are, basically, attempts by writers to “score” an agent, just like one goes on an interview to “score” a job. Be cautious of strong scents, inappropriate dress, and so on and you’ll probably have better luck.

  13. Alaina said:

    Wow, thanks for that! 🙂 I just started following your blog and I can’t wait to look through all your pearls here!

  14. Loree Huebner said:

    Great tip! I know this well. I work in an enclosed area where if someone wears a certain perfume or body spray, I must quickly begin the hunt for the nearest box of tissues.

    For some reason, the scent will hit the back of my throat first, sending me into a coughing spasm before the sneezing commences.

  15. Anonymous said:

    I love a no-perfume policy at conventions! Perfume is one of the biggest rip-offs in our society. 99 percent of the costs are advertising and packaging all to convince you that you will not be loved if you don’t buy their scent.

    There is a chemical in almost all perfumes that will bother sensitive systems. Which really makes it awful when people think they have to put on so much you can smell them as they walk by. It should only be noticed by someone kissing you.

  16. Agent Kristin said:

    Linda,
    I just tried the link and it’s working fine. Just went to our submission database (although eek on the corrupted porn site!)

    You might try typing in the url again (as there might have been a typo) or you might have something going on via your computer.

    I will, however, have Anita contact you tomorrow.
    Kristin

  17. Linda O'Connell said:

    Thank you so very much. My husband and adult children have tried using different search engines and all had the same results. Frustrating. I appreciate your response.

  18. Laina said:

    I’m suddenly glad I very rarely wear perfume and when I do, it’s generally fruit scented. (Seriously. The only perfume I own smells like apples.) I do have 2 body sprays that I like, though. One smells like cookies, one smells like (again) applies.

    Do food-scented fragrances count as an exception? 😉

  19. Susan said:

    I only wear a light lemon scented cologne for fear of overpowering anyone around me. I just came from the Writer’s League of Texas YA Conference and gave several pitches — thank goodness no one was allergic to lemons. Next time the only scent I’ll wear will be my deodorant. Thanks for mentioning.

  20. Tony DiMeo said:

    Come on, Kristin, you can be honest… Some agents are just allergic to bad writing! And now we have proof!

    Speaking of pitches, how do you feel about closing a long-form (1 minute pitch) with a title comparison? i.e. ‘Kristin’s Journey’… When Harry Met Sally meets The Davinci Code.

    by the way, I’m batting about .800 when it comes to matching up what’s playing on your ipod to what I have in mine!

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