MAKING CONTACTS

Only recently I posted information on pitching your work to editors and agents face to face. This past weekend I had some experience doing that, as did many of my writer friends. Attending these conferences often gives us the opportunity to meet agents and editors face to face. This is the ideal time to pitch our work. Believe me, they remember your name and your work after a personal meeting.

Sometimes I make notes on 3 x 5 cards, but mostly I just try to get everything straight in my head. It’s best to sound enthusiastic about your work, and so approaching it this way seems to work best.
A few things to remember: This person you’re speaking with is human, just like you. Often they are a bit nervous too. First greet them and thank them for attending the conference and speaking with so many authors. This is very important. Then spend about 90 seconds giving them an overview of your book. I may be repeating some information, but it’s so important. You are applying for a job with their company. Put your best foot forward and be very professional, but friendly. Do not take anything for them to read unless it is requested ahead of time.
One of the editors said at a panel we attended that if the writer does all the talking the writer doesn’t learn anything about the editor and his or her needs. So 90 seconds, then ask questions or allow the editor or agent to ask questions. We had ten minutes to make an impression with our work and ourselves. Try to use whatever time you have making the best impression you possibly can.
I presented my overview, she began to take furious notes and ask questions immediately. I was promoting an adult book to a young adult editor, and so I wondered what I could do to it to make her want it. She was very kind and said she liked the story a lot and made suggestions about changing it to a young adult. She also told me I should get an agent because she felt the book would sell in the adult market as well. She ended by saying I should contact her if I decided to make the changes to a young adult novel.
This was valuable information for me to consider. Now if I decide I want to make those small changes, I have someone who will remember talking to me and liking my idea. That opens a door that would otherwise be closed because Simon and Schuster is one of the many publishers that does not take unagented manuscripts . . . ordinarily. She will take mine now.
Every book I’ve sold, and there have been 12, has been pitched and sold at a conference, though some came about from a continuing contract initiated by that contact. Obviously this has been a valuable way for me to market my books.
Over the years I’ve had three agents, but mostly they’ve handled contracts and foreign sales. I did acquire one agent from a conference as well. Don’t pitch to an agent until you have finished work, but you might go ahead and pitch fiction to an editor if it’s almost finished. Chances are they’ll only want a partial and that will give you time to finish the ms.
There are conferences all summer and far into the fall. Find a couple that suit your needs, that are offering sit-downs with editors and agents and get to work.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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5 Responses to MAKING CONTACTS

  1. Sheila Deeth says:

    I only ever went to one conference. I enjoyed the chance to pitch, but really can't afford to try again.

  2. Great information, Velda. I especially like you're presenting the point of view of the editor and agent. If we could get that, the whole process would be more relaxed and productive.

  3. Thanks for sharing your feedback. It provides good motivation to those of us who are shy to try harder to get out and participate in conferences.

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