I’m off to Salem, MA today for the NECRWA Let Your Imagination Take Flight Writers’ Conference. It’s a delightful little regional conference, extremely well-organized and it’s in “Witch Central” so it’s fun as well. I understand we’re going to be off on a ghost hunt and will be deluged by psychics this evening.
But part of any conference is serious business and that means pitching to editors and agents. These angst-filled appointments are difficult for most writers. I’ve seen authors make themselves sick over it…literally. My writing dance card is full up, so I won’t be pitching any new projects. However, I thought I’d offer a word of advice for those who are.
Nothing you say will make the editor/agent buy your manuscript on the spot. They have to see your writing first. Think of this short interview as a random chat over coffee with someone who loves books as much as you do. Leave your index cards at home. Don’t reel off a memorized spiel. You’re there to have a conversation.
The agent/editor across the table from you is a real person, not a gate-keeping boogieman. They want to discover new authors. They want to fall in love with your work. However, at this meeting what they really want to know is “Are you someone I can work with?” Are you friendly? Relaxed? Professional? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
When you get a request for a partial (3 chapters and a synopsis) or a full manuscript, send it in right away. I’ve heard from so many editors who were excited by what they heard in a pitch, but were disappointed when the story never made it to their desk. This is why it’s never a good idea to pitch unless the manuscript is finished. By the time you run home and dash off the last 40K words, the market and the agent/editor has moved on.
Good luck and happy pitching all!
PS. I’ll be signing at the Literacy Bookfair on Saturday from 4-5:30. If you’re in the New England area, hope you’ll drop by:
The Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square West
Salem, MA 01970
See you there!