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.)
Andra M. says
And if I do ask who the exceptions are? Will I be banned forever for leaving a comment?
If so, then I won’t ask. *grin*
Never even thought of asking until you told me I couldn’t! Hmph.
The exceptions for you might not be the exceptions for me. There is an incredible diversity in human relations, so agent “Sassy” who bores Randy silly, might be one of my favorite people just because I dig her wry sense of humor or appreciate her single-minded dedication to craft or can empathize with her mother-in-law complications.
To get the most from conference, always go with no prejudices.
Just my 2-cents
Pam Halter says
Meeting with editors and agents is exactly why my friend, Joyce Moccero, and I do the Orientation at the Philly conference. After talking about what to expect from a conference experience, we role play an author meeting an editor. We do the right way and the wrong way. It’s hilarious. This year, we added “don’t pitch the editor in the bathroom” skit and it was a total hit.
The nervous conferees leave with smiles and more confidence.
Christophe Desmecht says
Actually, I want to know 🙂
So, who were the exceptions?
One more method for meeting an editor:
1. Go to a conference fully aware you’re a noobie with an unfinished novel and noobies with unfinished novels do not speak to editors, no matter how fun and interesting they may be.
2. Ignore the voices telling you this may be the only chance you have to go to a major conference for the rest of your life. You could get struck by lightning next year and your arms and legs might fall off. And the voices that say you’re a big fat chicken and how could you ever again have the nerve to tell your kids to get over their fear to act when an opportunuty comes their way.
3. When the voices won’t be ignored, argue with them, reminding them that you’re a noobie with an unfinished novel and to get them to shut up, bargain with them and say that when your critiques come back covered in red ink, it’s time to SHUT UP.
(oops-dang return key)
4. When critiques come back with smilies and ‘well written’ all over them, scream and cry and yell NO!!! DON’T TALK TO EDITORS NO MATTER HOW FUN AND INTERESTING THEY ARE!!!
5. Wrestle with God in the bathroom until He gives you the nerve to go ask the fun, interesting editor if he even has a time slot left so late in the conference which is doubtful because all the smart, good writers already took them.
6. Skip a workshop and just happen to find the editor you want meeting with another writer in the coffee shop. Ignore Randy seated nearby with a raised eyebrow look that says ‘who let you in here?’
7. Calmly walk up to him (because now you’re on a mission from God-don’t forget your cool black shades) and ask if he has any available time slots left and DON’T BE AT ALL SURPRISED after all that when he says ‘I’m free right now. Whatcha got?’ and asks to read a sample of your work, finds out it’s not finished and invites you to send the whole thing when it is.
It would be wise not to mention the voices, unless you come across those exceptionally unfun editors.
If all else fails, there’s always the “trap them in the elevator” approach! 🙂
Bonnie Grove says
*hides flapping carp behind her back*
Uh…so that’s a “no” to slapping ’em with a fish?
Any advise on whether to deal with editors who are also relatives?
My brother is an editor and has often asked if he could read the things I’m working on… however, the thought absolutely terrifies me (probably harking back to days of sibling rivalry when I was never good enough to compete with my MENSA genius big bro.) I much prefer the idea of dealing with total strangers.
Am I being foolish to squander an opportunity? or is it wise self-preservation?
Carly Brown says
This is a question for Pam Halter. When will there be another confrence in Philly? I live in the area and would love to attend.
Camille you are so very funny!!!!! I can relate because I am a noobie too, wrestling with God I don’t know if it may be easier to talk to another human being!!! Are they more God like and me????