You’ve anticipated this moment for the past month. You’ve dreamed of meeting with Steve Laube or Blythe Daniel or Dr. Vicki Crumpton with stars in your eyes. You’re absolutely certain they’ll be dying to represent or publish your work once they’ve had an opportunity to meet you. Sigh.
I know you’re nervous. And when we’re nervous, we tend to do and/or say pretty silly things.
Here are 14 things you won’t want to do during your 15-minute appointments with authors, agents, and editors. I’ve also provided some tips on what to do.
- Don’t send dagger eyes to the person in your chair if their appointment runs over into your time.
Do stand behind them and make friendly eye contact with the faculty member you’re waiting to talk with.
- Don’t forget your breath mints.
Do suck on one while you’re waiting for the person in front of you to leave that coveted seat. You don’t want the editor/agent to be distracted from your pitch.
- Don’t forget to put deodorant on.
Do so in the restroom before you go to your appointment, if necessary. Again—sweaty nerves are hard to ignore.
- Don’t start off by telling the agent/editor you’re the best thing since Stephen King. They’ve heard it before.
Do be humble.
- Don’t tell the agent/editor you’ve written the next New York Times bestseller. Chances are you haven’t. We can all dream, right?
Do tell them what you’ve written.
- Don’t take your non-fiction proposal to an agent that’s only looking for fiction.
Do your homework. Visit their websites to see what they are looking for.
- Don’t tell the agent/editor you’ve written a novel with an unconventional twist that will make the Christian reader squirm in their seats. This may raise a red flag.
Do consider the reader. There are rules in the Christian writing community. Better to stick to them.
- Don’t tell the agent/editor your book doesn’t compare to any other. It’s a sign of a lazy writer.
Do some market research. It’s as simple as an Amazon.com search. There are no new ideas. Just recycled ones.
- Don’t hog the conversation.
Do allow the agent/editor to speak. Remember, your pitch shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds. Throw it. Let them respond.
- Don’t poo-poo their suggestions. They’re the industry professionals. They know what they’re talking about.
Do take notes. You may learn something valuable to your career.
- Don’t offer agents/editors your entire manuscript. Several have flown to the conference and will not have room for that weight in their suitcases.
Do wait for them to ask you for a proposal or your work via email. Make sure you follow through and send it. Seventy percent of attendees won’t, giving you a better chance.
- Don’t corner the agent/editor/author every time you see them alone. Many are super busy.
Do give them space. Sit with them at dinner. Make another appointment.
- Don’t tell agents/editors that you had a dream/vision/prophetic word where God showed you they would represent/publish you. This creeps us out.
Do be like Mary. She kept those things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).
- Don’t fear the agent/editor/author. There’s really no need to be nervous. Most will break the ice before you get into your seat.
Do relax, be yourself, and enjoy your 15 minutes.
Alycia Morales has been a BRMCWC attendee since 2010. She’s blessed to be a member of the faculty this year. Alycia is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an Associate Editor with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and Senior Editor of Inspire a Fire. She loves encouraging writers to pursue their dreams and can’t wait to meet with you. Please visit her new blog, The Write Editing, to learn more about her.