Tag s | Pitching

What Editors Wish You Knew about Meeting with Them at Conferences

Thanks to Becky McCoy for requesting advice for conference meetings with agents and editors at conferences. You can find a lot of counsel for meeting with agents on the different agency blogs, but I thought I’d supplement those posts with advice from some of the in-house editors you’ll find at this years’ conferences. So I emailed said editors and asked them to share their wishes with you. Here are their responses. (Some of which are uncredited, to protect the honest—er, innocent. <smile>) Thanks to all the editors who shared!

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It’s important for authors to remember that we are all individuals, with our own preferences, skills, and unique set of experiences. There is not a one-size-fits-all formula for these meetings. Some editors want to read a piece of writing on the spot; some—like me—can’t read while someone is watching and would prefer to see the writing later. Some want a one sheet, some—like me—don’t really want to carry away even that single sheet of paper (though I’ll still accept it). It’s probably best to give the short pitch, and then ask questions, “Would you like my one sheet?” “Would you like me to go into more detail or would you like to see a writing sample?”

Dawn Anderson, Kregel Publishing

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I think the most important thing is to BREATHE. Agents and Editors do not bite (except Steve Laube) and we are truly interested in what they have to say. But preparation and knowing what you want to say ahead of time will ease the jitters. Take a deep breath and just start… “Hi, I’m xxx and I have written an 80,000-word contemporary romance set in xxxx. “

Susan Brower, Gilead Publishing

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First, start with the idea that the person across the table might become a friend, a contact in the industry. Even if he or she isn’t a candidate for your idea…who knows what might come up in the future.

Second, I don’t wish to sit and read your proposal or your one sheet. Tell me about it. This is my best chance to hear your enthusiasm, your passion…and start to see how you’d communicate about your book if we were your publisher.

Third, frame your pitch. “I’m writing a three-book historical romance series set in (fill in the blank). The heroine needs/loses/must….so the hero must…..”  Or “I’m writing a Christian living book for women (ages, if it’s more specific) who feel/need/want…”  I’ve been ten minutes into an author’s pitch before I figured out that what I thought was a novel was, in fact, self-help.

And finally, who started the infestation of one sheets?

A veteran editor

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The one thing I wish writers knew when walking into a 15-minute  appointment is that editors love to help. We’d rather brainstorm with someone who wants to learn and improve than listen to someone who’s memorized an elevator pitch.

Alice Crider, David C. Cook

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Remember that these few minutes are not the culmination of your writing career. In fact, they are actually building blocks of that career. Come to these meetings prepared to share but also (and maybe more so) prepared to learn. You will receive valuable input on writing style, audience reach, ways to improve, broaden, etc. Each piece of advice and wisdom will add so much to that specific piece you are sharing, but also to your career. Make a decision before you sit down for your first appointment to not walk away disappointed. Glean all you can from the time and trust the Lord to do the rest.

Kim Bangs, Baker Book Group, Chosen

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Know what the publisher publishes.  It doesn’t matter how good your proposal is, you can’t talk them into what they never publish.

Lonnie Hull DuPont, Baker Publishing Group, Revell

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Come prepared. Make sure your story has a strong marketable hook. Be prepared to share the hook of the story, not a 15-minute synopsis, with me. Try your hook out on friends or other attendees to see if what you have is truly unique and marketable. See if the hook of your story grabs their attention and makes them want to know more. If it doesn’t, brainstorm ways to communicate it more effectively.

Use your time at the conference with other storytellers to brainstorm ways to strengthen your story.

Do your research on the publisher so you’ll know if your genre or story might be a fit. If you discover your story isn’t a fit, be prepared with questions you might have about that publisher or the industry as a whole. Take advantage of that editor’s 15 minutes of undivided attention.

Senior Acquisitions editor

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Try to relax. I know it’s sometimes hard, but that person in front of you is there for you! They came to the conference so they could meet with you and hear what you have to say. Just be yourself. That will make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

Kim Moore, Harvest House Publishers

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There you go. Hope that helps you not only prepare for conferences, but enjoy them like never before.

 

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Are You Pitch Perfect?

A critical key to landing a book deal is the presentation of your idea in such a way that the editor or agent is completely sold out on the concept. In musical terms, perfect pitch is the rare talent to name or pick out a note without having any reference …

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There is a mysterious magic embedded in the mythos of the publishing industry…the ability to pick successful books. I was recently asked “You say ‘no’ so often, how do you know when to say ‘yes?’” I wish I could claim that every agent and publisher have a secret formula that we consult …

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Know Your Genre When Making a Pitch

Awhile ago I received a call that illustrates a common error a writer can make when making their pitch…The problem of not knowing the genre in which they are writing. The call went something like this: Writer: I’m calling to see if your agency handles Westerns. Agent: That is a tough …

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Acquisitions Director: God

This subject has been covered before by smarter people at our agency, but I am hoping that Steve Laube considers imitation truly the greatest form of flattery! Every aspiring or experienced Christian author is alerted to avoid mentioning that “God told me to write this book” when speaking to an agent …

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Unsolicited Proposals: aka “The Slush Pile”

All literary agents receive dozens of proposal each week. Some in the mail and some via email. Last week was a slow week, only 30 unsolicited proposals arrived. (Unsolicited means proposals that are not from our existing clients. We get a number of those each week too.)  The variety can …

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News You Can Use – June 25, 2013

Elevator Pitches: If You Build it, They Will Come. – Excellent post from Susan Spann! Do the exercise on your own pitch.

Christian Stores See 8.5% Overall Gain in 2012 – Looks like the growth came from non-book items. That is good news in that it means traffic in the stores has increased and reversed recent trends.

101 Things to Do to Build Your Writing Platform –  My advice? Don’t try all of them at once, your blood pressure can’t handle it. But pick ten and see what you can do with them by the end of Summer.

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

“Writing and the Brain” infographic. – You tell me. Does this help you understand how you think as a writer?

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News You Can Use – June 18, 2013

Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market – Watch the stats for trends.

How People Read Online – Does this mean I have to shorten my blog posts? And if I do will you still skip the last 2/3rds of what I write anyway?

Three Scriptural Cautions Against Self-Publishing – Do you agree or disagree? (and then read the next link below)

Three Reasons to Support Self-Publishing – A rebuttal to the previous link. I appreciate careful discourse and debate that does not devolve into chaos. This point-counterpoint is a wonderful example of how to conduct this type of conversation.

Did You Forget to Pay Royalties for Singing “Happy Birthday”? – A fascinating article which tells of a company who is suing to get “Happy Birthday” declared public domain. Ever wonder why restaurants all have their own song for celebrating birthdays? They don’t want to receive an invoice from the copyright holder who makes $5,000,000 a year in royalties.

3 mistakes to avoid when following up on a pitch – This article can be applied to pitching editors and agents too.

10 Blogging Tactics To Maximize Long-Term Results – Excellent advice from Heidi Cohen. I get this kind of question a lot from authors trying to use their blog to market their books.

The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual” – Seth Godin talks about building low and slow for maximum success.

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Do You Have Perfect Pitch?

Thanks so much for all the ideas for my mini-conferences. I’ll put those together soon.

Speaking of conferences, while I was at a writer’s retreat awhile back, I was struck, as I always am when in the company of writers, by the power of the right word used in the right way. On the first day of the conference, I had group meetings with the writers. This is where a group of writers come in, sit at a table together, and each takes a turn pitching his/her book to me to see if I would be interested in representing the author. I had six groups, each lasting a half hour, made up of anywhere from 5-7 people each. So folks had a total of 3-5 minutes to engage me in their project.

It’s the writer’s conference version of speed dating!

The cool thing is, a good number of those who came had such a strong understanding of their project and of the market that they were able to hook me in the first few words. Now that’s doing your homework! For example, one woman told me right off the bat her book was romantic suspense, what the main story line was (in a sentence), and what the conflict and spiritual takeaway were. That took about 45 seconds of her 4 minutes, so from there I asked questions about the story and focus and she was able to relax and just talk. I ended up asking her to send me the proposal. Don’t know if we’ll pursue it–the writing is what tips the scales, of course. But I was impressed with her well chosen descriptions. And if I’m considering two manuscripts and all things are basically equal, I’ll always go with an author who is, first and foremost, teachable, and then able to communicate the heart and soul of her story quickly and effectively.

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News You Can Use – April 10, 2012

Pew Research Findings on E-Reading – If you want a sense of what’s happening, read this article. Then once you’ve digested it, read Mike Shatzkin’s evaluation of the data. Together the articles may take an hour to absorb.

The Perfect Elevator Pitch for a New Job – Interesting article with applications for a writer creating the perfect pitch for their book idea

Five Best Bluetooth Headsets – A link for you techies out there. If you have a favorite vote in the comment section.

Judging a Book by its Cover – A 17 minute lecture from the TED conference by a book cover designer (Chip Kidd has been a designer at Alfred A. Knopf since 1986). At turns amusing and enlightening. If you are an author and want to get inside the head of a designer in an entertaining way, consider watching.

Five Great Movies about Writing – Have to admit never seeing any of these. Am I an uncultured sloth? Don’t answer that question. Instead add your two cents in the comments below.

Infographic on how the Internet is ruining our brain:

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