Freelance PitchFest FAQ
How does signing up for Pitchfest work?
Editors who will be appearing at Pitchfest are recruited by Freelance Committee Chair Jeanne Erdmann in the months before the conference. The editors’ time during Pitchfest is divided into 10-minute blocks, within which 7 minutes are appointment slots and 3 minutes are for moving people in and out of the room and giving the editors time to breathe. Sign-ups for those slots takes place in advance of the conference at a date and time that is announced in advance. You are allowed up to four slots during the advance sign-up period, and up to two additional slots during the on-site sign-up period at the conference.
If slots will be held open til the conference, why should I sign up in advance?
We encourage you to sign up in advance for several reasons. First, because it represents your best chance of getting the slots you want with the editors you most want to meet; only a few slots per editor are held back and they go quickly. Second, because it gives you more time to prep.
I missed the online signup because I was traveling. How do I sign up at the conference?
Any remaining slots can be accessed at the registration desk during the meeting.
Do I need to come prepared with pitches?
Coming with pitches is essential. Getting face-to-face time with these top editors is a rare opportunity and shouldn’t be wasted. These editors have told us that they expect pitches that are fresh, detailed, and demonstrate that you have researched the publication in advance. Do not expect to be able to use the time to have a “get to know you” chat; editors have told us in the past that they think less of writers who do not present pitches to them.
Should I bring my CV?
Editors have told us it is not necessary. However, though it is not a requirement, we recommend business cards with a link to your online portfolio.
What if I can't attend my pre-arranged time slot?
Because it involves so many people, Pitchfest is always a logistical challenge, and missed and changed appointments make it much more difficult to run the event smoothly. In addition, Pitchfest is the product of significant time and effort expended by both volunteers and staff, and also represents a significant financial investment by AHCJ.
We ask you to show respect for the effort that has been expended to provide this opportunity for you by honoring your commitments to your appointments.
If you are on the fence about participating, we ask that you refrain from the advance sign-ups, and wait to see if any slots are still open during the conference. If you become ill during the conference or are caught in traffic or in a meeting, we expect you to get a message to the organizers, preferably by text to Jeanne at 636-398-6241 or Maryn at 404-285-1175. Note: We will not be able to change appointment times by text. If you are delayed but want to try for a later time, you must come to the Pitchfest room to see what is available.
This is important: Do not ghost. The editors have told us in the past that they are insulted when people do not show; remember, they have your names in advance, and they will remember them.
IN A CHANGE FROM PAST YEARS, anyone who does not show for an appointment, and does not notify the organizers in advance, will be excluded from advance sign-up the following year.
How does Pitchfest work logistically?
We expect you to come to the room where Pitchfest happens at least 5 minutes in advance of your first appointment. We will not send you any notifications or reminders on the day; it is up to you to arrive on time. The editors will be behind closed doors, and Freelance Committee and AHCJ staff monitor the doors both inside and outside the room. There will be seating outside the room where the editors are, and a listing of the time slots with writers’ names. A few minutes before each time slot, Committee staff will ask the people whose appointments are in the next time slot to line up in front of the entrance door to the editors’ room. They also check names against the sign-up sheet. Immediately before the slot begins, the writers whose appointments were in the previous slot will exit through a separate door.
Once the editors have had a minute to collect themselves, the Committee members inside the room will open the doors, and the Committee member monitoring the line-up from the outside will allow you to come in. Each editor will be sitting at a separate table out of earshot of the other editors. A volunteer will assist in helping you find your table.
A Committee member in the room will announce a one-minute warning, and the end of the appointment time. When the appointment times are over please leave the editor’s table. If you do not move, Committee members will tell you, in front of the editor that it is time for you to leave. We suggest you spare yourself that.
Do I need to leave the room if I have back-to-back meetings?
IN A CHANGE FROM PAST YEARS, if you have a meeting in the next time slot, then you may stay in the room — but you must leave the table where you are sitting, go to one of the side walls, and stand there.
You may not begin any conversations with any editors in advance of the start of the next time slot. If you do, Committee members will ask you to leave.
Do I really have to stick to the 7 minutes?
Yes, you do. Over years of experience, we have found that 3 minutes is the minimum amount of time in which the editors can take a breath, get a drink of water, and clear their heads in order to refocus their attention for the next appointment.
IN A CHANGE FROM PAST YEARS, if when you are asked to move from an editor’s table you are in any way unpleasant to any of the volunteers, you will be ejected, the rest of your appointments will be cancelled, and you will not be accepted to Pitchfest in future years. In 2017, several attendees insulted and cursed some of the organizers. We will not allow this to happen again.
I see that an editor has an empty slot in their line-up. May I take it?
If you are interested in an open time slot, speak to the volunteers outside the Pitchfest room. They are the only ones empowered to adjust the schedule. NOTE: The schedule cannot be changed from within the room; to negotiate an extra time slot, you must exit.
I forgot to give an editor something during our time slot. May I come back in to hand it to him or her?
No. If you have something to give an editor, you may give it to one of the volunteers to take into the room, or you may wait until Pitchfest is over and try to catch the editor then.
One of the editors in Pitchfest is a friend of mine. Surely I can nip in to see her for just a sec?
We will not allow anyone who has been placed on the schedule to have their appointments disrupted by interruptions. If the editor is expecting you in advance, and tells the volunteers within the room to admit you, we will allow you to come in during the half-time break for a few minutes, but that request must come from the editor. To minimize disruption, we prefer that you make plans for a social appointment after Pitchfest is over.
An editor I spoke to said that s/he would like to continue the conversation. May I come back in?
If there is an open slot on that editor’s schedule, you may discuss it with the staff outside the room. You must exit the room to have that discussion. We suggest you negotiate with the editor for a meeting after Pitchfest concludes.
A final note:
You may have noticed that, in places in this FAQ, our language is pretty pointed. There is a reason for that. Pitchfest is organized and run on many volunteer and staff hours, not to mention the editors who have agreed to attend. We ask you to help keep Pitchfest going by appreciating the volunteers and the staff, respecting the editors who have come to hear about your work, and behaving in a manner that you would want someone to behave toward you. Thank you.