How to Approach an Editor

Sunday, August 04, 2013

All kidding aside, approaching an editor at a conference can feel like tricky business. After all, especially persistent people do approach them in the bathroom, manuscript in hand. Really. I even talked to an editor who had a submission arrive attached to a pair of slinky, red underwear, and this was an editor for a children’s imprint.

Now that we’ve covered a few “not-to-do’s, here are some tips on the right way to approach an editor at a writing event.

  1. Do Your Research. This is especially important if you are attending an event that features numerous editors and agents. Know who publishes what you write. This is just like submitting your work. Just because you are face-to-face with an actual editor doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to pitch your true crime manuscript if she acquires only romances.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect. Once you know what the editor accepts and that you have a suitable manuscript, practice your pitch. You don’t want to waste whatever face-time you have stumbling over yourself. Have an elevator pitch ready to go. This pitch is only a sentence or two long and is designed to grab her attention fast. Don’t think summary; think sales pitch.
  3. Be Sincerely Flattering. Because you’ve done your research, you should know at least some of the editor’s work. If you are going to pay the editor a compliment, make is sincere. When I met the editor of the Henry and Mudge books, she was tickled to hear my son was a fan.
  4. Gauge the Mood. Editors are at these events because they want to meet writers. That said, after being on for several hours or even several days, sometimes they just need a moment to be. An editor who looks completely frazzled or irritated probably isn’t going to be all that responsive to your work.
  5. Expect to Mail It. If you get a positive response, don’t expect to hand over your manuscript right that second. Editors have to get themselves and their gear from Point A to Point B and a big stack of manuscripts just makes the job more difficult.

Editors and agents come to writing events of all kinds because they want to meet writers. Approach them professionally and respectfully for a chance to sell your work.


Read more of SueBE's posts at her blog, One Writer's Journey.  SueBE will be teaching a WOW class, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults, starting  October 7, 2013.  


Sioux Roslawski said...

SueBE--I see from the video that the bathroom is NOT an appropriate place to approach an editor or an agent.

Perhaps breaking into their hotel room would be more convenient for them? ;)

Thanks for the reminders. We need those on a regular basis so when we DO get an opportunity--one that is nerve-wracking--we have those tips ingrained in our brains.

LuAnn Schindler said...

Good tips, Sue. Even if it's a small writer's conference - one I attendd had 20 writers attend - do not expect to hand a manuscript to an agent!

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