Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Deciding on That Agent/Editor Appointment

by Donna Brennan
2012 Write Stuff Chair

At the 2012 Write Stuff conference we have a great line-up of agents and editors ready to listen to writers pitch their books. Five agents, in fact. And two editors. But since you only get one appointment, how do you, an aspiring author, decide which agent or editor would be the best one for you to pitch to. Here are some pointers.

First, read the bios of all the agents and editors coming to the conference. Their bios include a list what type of books they represent or publish. It also says if they are especially interested in a particular genre or if they handle non-fiction. Be sure to take note of what they are not interested in.

Next, go to their company’s website. Browse the pages to find out about the agency or publisher. Do they represent or publish a lot of books in your genre or field? View their client list. Read the blurbs on their books. Do any of these descriptions resonate with you?

Carefully consider which agents or editors seem the best fits for you and your book. Then write down your first and second choice on your registration form. But be sure to register as soon as possible, as these appointments go fast.

But what if you don’t get an appointment with the agent or editor of your choice? Or what if two or more really appeal to you?

Well, you’ve been to their website. Did you check out their submission guidelines? Are they open to query letters?

First, of course you should prepare and do your best for the appointment you do get. (We’ll have a blog post in the coming months that will help you do just that.)

Second, know that agents and editors will be at the Welcome Banquet, breakfast, and lunch, available to talk with conferees. Don’t go hunt them down or give them your whole pitch, but if you see them, mention that you didn’t get a chance to meet with them and ask if you could send a query letter. Be prepared, if they ask, to give a (very) brief description of what your book is about—about one or two sentences brief. Be prepared to go into a longer description if they ask, but keep that one short, too.

If they say to send the query, go for it! Be sure to follow any and all guidelines on their websites about querying. And be sure to mention that you spoke with them at the conference.

Even if you don’t get a chance to talk with them, you can still send a query. When you do, mention that you were at the conference but didn’t get an appointment with them.

An alternate plan would be to query them before the conference. Mention that you will be there but didn’t manage to get an appointment with them. Maybe they’ll be interested enough to make an effort to speak with you in person at some point during the conference. But don’t be pushy. Let your writing speak for itself.

And be sure to come back to this blog to read all our agent and editor interviews.

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