Monday, May 7, 2007

Fifteen Minutes, Face to Face

The writer's conference season is upon us and many of our blogees are polishing up their pitches in anticipation of those fifteen minutes of fear known as the dreaded Editor Appointments. One of our regular Edit Cafe patrons asked us to compile a list of helpful tips for authors who find themselves face-to-face with an editor. Here's our Monday musings on the topic. . .

  1. Don’t make me feel like that proverbial bowl of chopped liver. I don’t want to feel as though I'm your second. . .or third. . .or last choice—even if I am! Don't approach our appointment with an introductory line such as: "I really wanted to meet with Editor Doe, but her schedule was already full, so I signed up for you instead." My ego isn’t really all that inflated, but I don’t like to think that I’m “leftovers” either.

  2. Shoot a silver bullet. Don't apply a buckshot approach to your pitch and let loose a barrage of every WIP proposal you've ever started. Hit me with your best shot. Focus your presentation on offering your Number One best proposal idea.

  3. Pick the right target. Gear your presentation to my particular needs. Follow my guidelines specifically. Don't ask my opinion on a 120k-word romantic comedy proposal if I'm only in the market for a cozy mystery.

  4. Timing is everything! Be punctual. When your time is up, don't steal minutes from the next appointee. If you have to cancel or change appointment time, be sure it gets communicated to the editor.

  5. Manage your expectations. Realize the editor will likely only have time to read a paragraph or two of your sample work. Don’t expect any sort of in-depth evaluation. Be aware that time constraints and room distractions don't allow for much. Your overall theme and setting will carry the most punch.

  6. Ooze with enthuse. Be excited about what you've written so others will want to read it too.

  7. You'd better watch out--you'd better not pout! Be willing to take “no” for an answer. Sometimes your idea just doesn't fit the editor’s needs for a variety of reasons. A “no” doesn't mean your proposal is awful and won't find the right home.

  8. Don’t come empty-handed. Come with something to present. If you want to chat about the company's needs, it is preferred that you read the guidelines or go to a class taught by the editor. (Oh, and if you extend a handful of chocolate, we won't send you packing. Ha!)

  9. Don't weigh me down. Don't expect me to carry a full manuscript home with me on the plane. A one-sheet overview/synopsis of your story complete with contact info will provide a sufficient memory-refresher of our time together when I'm back in my office and unpacking my conference materials.

  10. A horse of a different color. . .is still a horse. Editors are people, too--some shy, some talkative, some funny, some serious, etc.--but they generally all want to be helpful to you or they wouldn't be at the conference.


E said...

What great tips for that scary 15 minutes! Thanks, ladies!

Beth Loughner said...

Thanks for all the great tips. I loved meeting the editors at the Write-to-Publish Conference. They were very helpful. And I'm with you, don't take more than your 15 minutes. I had 2 appointments where the same woman was ahead of me and she just wouldn't let go until the editor finally had to be really, really frank with her. It was embarrassing all cost me 5 minutes. Thanks for the discussion. Beth

Mary Connealy said...

I'll add some tips here, too, from the author's side that really helped me, Becky.
Remember that the editor is rooting for you. She wants to find a good book as much as you want her to buy yours.

I have found editors to be very skilled in dealing with nervous authors so trust them to be kind. You may hear of exceptions, but this is a big part of what they do for a living. They're good at it. They're not going to reject you for being nervous or fumbling your presentation. They've seen it all before and you're in good hands.
And now I'M nervous because the ACFW conference is almost ready to open for registration and I'm going this year...last year I couldn't and I really missed it.