I’m scanning through the recent comments here on my blog looking for any questions I still haven’t answered yet. We’ve been discussing writing conferences for a while now.
How would I go about making an appointment with an editor to get feedback on my manuscript?
Randy sez: That depends on the conference. Different conferences run things differently. Here are several different ways that I’ve seen it done:
1) You presubmit your proposal or sample chapters to the editor of your choice, usually by mailing it in before the conference. Usually you get to choose which editor, but there is always a chance that it’ll get redirected to someone else. When this happens, the ball is in the editor’s court. If they like what they see, then they’ll ask to meet you. If you get an appointment this way, you are already on first base, because the editor likes your work enough to want to meet you.
2) You sign up in advance (or very early in the conference) for a particular time-slot with a particular editor. In this case, the ball is more in your court, since you get to choose and the editor really can’t say no to the appointment. However, there are no guarantees that the editor will be remotely interested. You can make your pitch, but it COULD happen that the editor realizes within 10 seconds that you aren’t at all a good fit for her or her publishing house. In that case, the remaining 14 minutes and 50 seconds can be a very long time.
3) You catch the editor informally early in the conference and ask for an appointment. The editor can say yes or no. If she’s extremely busy, she’ll likely want a reason why she should meet with you, so be prepared to make a 5 second spiel on why. Do NOT drag on for even 20 seconds on this! If the editor’s not terribly busy, she may have time without needing a reason.
4) You eat dinner with the editor and she asks everyone at the table, “So tell me what you’re writing.” You are prepared with a good one-sentence summary and can answer questions for a couple of minutes in a way that sounds interesting. Then the editor might well ask you for an appointment. (Or not–this doesn’t happen all that often, but I’ve seen it happen.)
5) You meet a writer who asks what you’re working on. The writer offers to read a bit of your work and then says, “You have GOT to meet Mr. Bigshot Agent or Ms. Biggershot Editor. They’re right over there. Let me introduce you right now.”
I have had appointments with editors using all of these methods. At first, any of them would have been incredibly traumatic. It’s gotten a lot easier over the years. I long ago realized that editors and agents are (almost always) incredibly interesting and fun people. (You are not allowed to ask me who the exceptions were.)