Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meeting with Agents and editors by Terry Burns

It’s the conference season and many are preparing for those all-important meetings with agents and editors. Well, hopefully my clients are just meeting with editors. If they have an agent, should they even be doing that? Absolutely, whether I am at the same conference with them or not, it is their chance to make a personal connection with an editor that they can say they will have their agent follow up on. It’s even more important if it is a conference that I am not attending.

A couple of things to keep in mind: First, ten or fifteen minutes depending on the length of the appointment is not long enough to sell your book. Most agents and editors will tell you they have seldom if ever made a decision about a project while at a conference. I think I have done it twice. However, it is enough time to generate interest to send a proposal and create a favorable impression so they will remember you when that proposal arrives.

Second, make a good, brief pitch and then shut up. Those who spend the whole time talking tend to not engage the interest of those they are meeting with. Allow the agent or editor to ask questions about things they want to know so they can gauge their level of interest. The target is a dialogue or exchange, not a lecture.

Finally, it is good to have a one sheet and or a proposal with you but be aware that most of those you meet with do not want to take hard copy material with them. But like the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared." Occasionally there may be that person who wants to read something while they are there or on the airplane home and will select something for that purpose. And it’s a good idea if the one sheet has your picture to help them remember you, and include the contact information for your agent.

Remember you are there to impart AND RECEIVE information. Impart enough to pave the way for the proposal you will probably be invited to send, and receiving information about the interest of the person you are meeting with that you can reference in your cover letter and personalize it. And do not count on the person to remember what was said in the interview. They are meeting with dozens of people and you should refresh their memory about anything from your interview that you want them to remember.

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