by Susan K. Stewart
I remember my first appointment with an editor at a writers’ conference. I thought I had really blown it … well, alright, I did blow it. I was late. I wrote down the wrong time. The very gracious editor took a few minutes with me when he had a free moment and did ask for a full proposal.
I tell you my little tale as an example of what not to do. And, also, as an encouragement to relax. It’s not as hard as it may sound and editors aren’t scary. Although making that first appointment may be.
As I look back to that first appointment more than a decade ago, I wish I had known what was expected of me and the person on the other side of the table. I didn’t even know what an elevator speech was, let alone a one-sheet. I anticipated a gruff old man ready to reject anything put in front of him. A throwback to my first days working at a daily newspaper, I guess.
If this is the first time you’re meeting with an editor or agent at a conference. Take heart. The person on the other side of the table is just that … a person. The fact is we are looking for new material to recommend to our companies. Why else would we be there? Most editors and agents want to say “yes.”
Remember also, the person you are meeting with is a human being. We want to meet you and get to know you. Stuff happens. Editors and agents get tired, planes are delayed, or we worry about our loved ones at home. We’re just like you.
Like a scout, you can be prepared. Here are few other things you can do make your appointment go a little smoother.
- Read all the preparation details for faculty appointments.
- Check the tips for queries and proposals.
- The editorial needs of the agents and publishers are also listed at the Writers Conference website.
Once you’ve narrowed the possibilities down, go to the publisher’s or agents’ website. Look at their style sheet and other information. Check the books and authors the company has published or represents. This will help you know if your project is a good fit.
Nearly all of the faculty members are available when not speaking to meet with attendees on their topics. Want to know more details of blogs? Have a specific question about accounting? Are you confused about the Oxford comma? One of the faculty members will be able to answer the question. You can read about faculty members and their specialties here.
Not sure if a specific publisher or agent is right for you? Have a meal with them. Faculty members have assigned tables for lunch and dinner. Look for that editor, agent, or faculty member you might want to meet. This is a good time to have that elevator speech ready. It’s also a good time to listen. So much can be learned during a meal.
Faculty members will be taking appointments at the Meet and Greet on Thursday, March 22 at 3:00 p.m. in the Field House. Hors d’oeuvres and mocktails will be served. You won’t want to miss this fun social time.
Relax and get ready for your conference appointments by preparing before you get there. And double check that time.
Also, read Mary DeMuth’s guide, “10 Ways to Be Awkward at a Writer’s Conference.”
Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits nonfiction. She is known for practical solutions to real-world situations. Susan is senior nonfiction editor with Elk Lake Publishing and blog content manager for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference blog. She has published three books, including the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers: Convert Your Word File to Kindle. Susan teaches writing and editing workshops online and in person. She lives in central Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, nine chickens, and a donkey. The Stewarts have three children and five grandchildren. You can read more of Susan’s practical solutions at www.practicalinspirations.com.
Susan will be teaching “Practical Blogs for Writers” (Sunday, 1:45 p.m.) and “Preparing and Formatting E-books” (Monday, 3:15 p.m.).