Romance author Angela Drake has held a weekly workshop for AOL, and now moderates the follow-up Yahoo group. Guest speaker at the Springfield Writers Guild on Saturday, August 27, 2011, she shared her 10 Tips to Getting an Editor or Agent…
Ms. Drake began her presentation by informing writers that their best bet to snagging an agent or editor is to attend conferences where publishing houses are scouting for new authors. You can typically sign up for a pitch session – a 3 to 5 minute appointment with a representative, where you have an exclusive opportunity to sell your book. Spaces fill up fast, so sign up
early, and even if you don’t have a story to sell yet, use that time to learn about the industry and make a connection with other professionals.
Once arrived, a moderator will keep all appointments on track and will signal you when it is your turn. Here is Kelly’s 10-Point Plan for being prepared when your name is called:
1) Have the book done – this may seem a little obvious, but there are enough people out there who have tried to sell a dream to make it worth mentioning. You want to be able to follow-up within one day of your
interview. If the agent/editor asks to see the complete manuscript, will you be able to deliver?
2) Know your qualifications – be confident of your area of expertise, any special knowledge you have that pertains to your project, and demonstrate what you are doing to treat this as a business (maintaining a blog, memberships in relevant organizations, etc.)
3) Know the house – What has the publishing company released in the last six months? What other authors do they publish in your topic area? Research your interviewer before you arrive, using resources like Writer’s Market, the publisher’s website, and networking with others in that genre.
4) Know the editor or agent – Research the personal literary tastes or life events (as much as possible) of the person you are meeting. Show that you have taken the time to learn about them, and are interested in more than just self-promotion.
5) Know your competitors – Be able to give an idea of who your work is similar to, or how a twist or unique angle in your book changes a current trend.
6) Prepare the pitch – Prior to your appointment, write a “back copy” of your book – a mini-commercial – that summarizes and sparks interest in your story. You can get an idea of how to do this by browsing a bookstore and reading the back covers of both authors you read and those unknown to you. Which ones make you want to read the book, and why?
7) Business cards – These are introduction to people you don’t know. Avoid cutesy graphics and garish colors. Keep the presentation simple – plain black and white is acceptable – and include your name and contact information. Prepare some cards ahead of time specifically for your meetings, and write the title of the work you are pitching, the target line/theme of the book, and word count on the back of the card. Later, the agent/editor can refer to this easily when pairing your name with your work.
8) Dress appropriately – Wear basic business attire in dark colors, with low-heeled shoes. Avoid cologne or perfume, distracting jewelry, and gum. You want the interviewer to focus on you, not your outfit.
9) Be on time – Plan to be 10 or 15 minutes early to your designated time. Someone may drop out, and the entire line may move up a time slot.
10) Be confident – Know that you are ready, appropriately dressed, and have a completed work you believe in!
Words to Remember…
“Write the book of your heart and don’t worry about the rest of it.” – Angela Drake
For more notes on this presentation, visit my friend Leann’s site here.
- To Pitch or not to Pitch? (kimkoning.wordpress.com)