Archive for the ‘Meeting and Working With Editors’ Category

“How can writers meet editors in person?” Part II: Conference Connections

“What are some methods used at conferences to introduce writers to editors?”

When registering for a conference, you should be told exactly if–and how–you will get to meet editors, and how long scheduled appointments last.  Editors generally attend conferences to present workshops and/or join panel discussions with other editors, in large group sessions, to reveal current editorial needs to conferees. Some, in hopes of finding new and talented writers, allow authors to sign up for brief personal meetings. Those meetings are conducted in a variety of ways:

The Individual Pitch Appointment gives you 10-15 minutes to sit down with an editor to pitch a specific idea. Ideally, you have an elevator speech down pat to clearly present that idea.

Consider this a query in person vs. on paper: equally concise, but delivered with more enthusiasm and clarity. If the editor is interested, he will ask you to send a formal query to his office after the conference. If not interested, that may be painfully obvious. But hey–you save months of pacing in front of your mailbox, right?

You will usually sign up for appointments when you register for the conference or on the first day you are there.  Here are a few ways editor-writer meetings may take place:

The Manuscript (MS) Critique Appointment allows you to hear, in person, an editor’s comments about a manuscript you submit in advance. It’s a time to listen and learn from a pro.

Your registration fees may allow for one solid editorial critique, or you might have to pay extra for this. However, if your manuscript is particularly intriguing and a good fit for a magazine or book house, the editor might ask you to make an individual appointment to meet later.

MS critiques can also exhaust editors. They must devote time in advance to reading what you submit and may stay up late the night before doing so. Show your appreciation for the editor’s time. If  you see a yawn, it may not be a reflection of your writing ability!

The Group Query is less taxing on editors and makes better use of their time, but won’t be focused on only you. A small group of writers sit in a circle. Each has a little time to pitch their idea to the editor, in the presence of the other writers. If the editor is interested, she will ask to meet with you privately later.

The Pitch-Slam method is akin to speed dating: a technique I’ve seen at only one conference, with Writer’s Digest. The editor sits at a desk. Writers line up single file in front of him. One by one, you move to the front of the line. The instant you get there, you start your few minutes of fast talk to pitch your idea. When the timer goes off, you stop talking—even mid-sentence. You hand the editor your business card (if he wants it) then walk away. Yikes. Talk about pressure! However, as with other writer-editor meetings, if you spark interest you will be asked for a second meeting, perhaps at the same conference.

The Casual Chat is ideal. It’s not really a formal meeting at all. It’s simply a matter of editors and writers choosing to lunch together in the same dining hall, and letting the chips fall where they may. Some very inspiring conversations can happen this way.

This opportunity arises more often at smaller conferences where meals are shared in a common hall or at conferences at more isolated retreats. I’ve seen this more often at Christian conferences than secular ones, perhaps because of the “we’re all in this together” mentality and the focus on spiritual issues as well as business. Like-mindedness and a higher purpose for writing also tends to develop more camaraderie and less competitiveness among writers.

If you do have the opportunity to sit at a lunch table with an editor, you strike a delicate balance between eating and getting to know each other more casually. After all, he wants to eat too!

This is ideal when you don’t have a burning desire to pitch a specific project, but are interested in an editor, magazine or book house in general.  Or you may have an appointment set up, but simply want time to enjoy meeting the editor more casually. You simply enjoy interesting conversations unrelated to your own projects.

Later, when you do pitch ideas through the mail or email, you can refer to having enjoyed meeting them, if indeed you did and you truly clicked. This helps them connect your name with your face and personality.

Caution: if you are with a group, don’t monopolize the time. That’s what individual appointments are for. (Even in those, ask about, and listen to the editor, to find out about their own interests.) Also during community meals, get to know your fellow writers and encourage them. You may end up friends for life!

One of the best things about meeting editors in person is realizing they are simply people, like you and me: not to be feared nor unnecessarily revered.  They do need their time and energy valued, just as you value yours.

Editors who go to conferences show willingness to share their knowledge and experience.  Yet they do hope that when they get back home, they will have found at least one gem they can  polish and present brightly to their readers. You could be that gem.

Now, a question for you my dear blog readers:

Have you ever been able to pitch an idea in person to an editor in a different kind of appointment other than what I’ve mentioned?  Or did an editor appointment have positive long-term results for you, in launching or enhancing your writing career?

Write On!


© 2011 Laurie Winslow Sargent

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