Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conference Follow-up by Andy Scheer

Before I could write this, I had several post-conference tasks to accomplish.

Yes, I unpacked my carry-on and my briefcase, sorted my laundry into darks and lights, reorganized my workshop notes, and placed into one folder all the documents related to the conference.

But most important, I sent a couple of follow-up emails.

During the half-hour trip to the San Diego airport, I shared a shuttle with an acquisitions editor. We'd talked about her upcoming plans to visit the slickrock country of eastern Utah, and I promised I'd email her information about a spectacular but little-known state park and some hiking opportunities in nearby slot canyons. (She also said she'd update me on who is handling what acquisitions in another division of that publishing house.)

So before I sat down to write this, I sent my follow-up email to that editor--and another to one of the conference organizers.

I also responded to an email from one of the sixteen people with whom I had a Saturday appointment. He'd written for me years ago when I was an editor at Moody magazine. So when we met to talk about his novel in progress, the name rang a bell. I liked what he said about his project, and his brief follow-up email reinforced that he's someone who takes his writing, his professionalism, seriously.

But I also wonder how many of those other fifteen people I'll hear from. The conferees were surprisingly well prepared. I really clicked with several of the writers, and I told an exceptionally high number of them that yes, I'd like them to email me their polished proposal.

Still, my years of acquiring articles and writers for the magazine showed me that many writers take as a rejection anything short of an enthusiastic Yes! And in most cases, I asked for further details in those proposals that looked promising.

I hope they'll follow up. But if they don't, I'll take that as evidence that they're not yet ready for the Big Leagues. Time will tell.


Rick Barry said...

At the ACFW conference, I met a writer who was looking a little dejected. Why, I asked. An agent had just requested to see his first three chapters, but she hadn't sounded as excited as he thought she should. He figured she was merely being polite to him.

"Look," I said. "If they don't see some merit in your pitch, they're not going to request sample chapters just to be polite. These people receive thousands of queries each year. They aren't going to double their work load by asking to see chapters they don't want to check out."

He replied, "I never thought about it like that!" Made me feel good that I had lifted up a sagging soul.

Cora Allen said...

Good post, Andy. As a writer, it's always good to look at things from the perspective of an agent/editor to better understand the publishing world.

Kathryn Elliott said...

As a writer, I’ll admit I take body language and overall demeanor into account when pitching an agent. If I get the pleasant, nod-to-the-nice-girl-she’s-trying reaction, I do get dejected. On the other hand, I’ve sold my last few articles to agents originally taking the tepid response route. I guess the old adage applies, looks can be deceiving, and we all have full plates to balance. And can I say for the record, a man who separates his laundry – Holy Cow! Can I send my husband to your house for lessons?

Andy Scheer said...

And perhaps some who don't send me their manuscript or proposal instead send it to someone else they met at the conference.
As for laundry, I suggest multiple baskets/hampers--one for each major category. But I admit it's hard for me to grasp that most "mediums" are considered dark. And even many that look light.

Davalyn Spencer said...

I appreciate your comments on follow-up. Our professionalism shows when we keep our word about contacting someone, whether that person is an editor, agent, or fellow author. I believe everything we write counts--even email--and into today's "instant" age, that email represents respect.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I stopped sorting my laundry years ago. We get some interesting colored items, but it's so much fun. You should try it!

Mary DeMuth said to a group of us in a conference class that only five percent of writers get back to editors who ask for a proposal. I determined to be in that five percent, and it has helped me go forward in my career.

Was it interesting for you to be on the other side of the desk for this conference?

Rick Barry said...

Guys' laundry rule #2: Just say No to ironing. Don't even buy clothes that need it. Wash & tumble-dry garments are the only way to go.