Make The Most Of Your Writing Editor Appointment

Learn how make a connection with a writing editor and present your book proposal.

Let's say you've attended a couple of writers' conferences and you've finally signed up for an editor appointment. You'll actually have a chance to pitch a real live editor the idea for your wonderful book in a face-to-face interview! Then dread strikes. You've got to pitch your idea to a real live editor in a face-to-face interview!

Don't panic. That's Rule #1

Rule #2 Do your homework. Know what kind of books this editor acquires, any personal likes or quirks she may have, what her publishing line is like. Make sure that your book will fit into her line and be prepared to tell her why you think so. If someone you know recommended you to this particular editor, you may want to mention it in a complimentary fashion.

Rule #3 Know your material. You may have as little as 4 minutes to introduce yourself, make a connection and present your idea. You certainly won't have time to tell the editor the entire story, nor is that appropriate at this time. Your goal in the interview is to intrigue the editor. In a way, this meeting takes the place of a query letter. Just as you would in a query letter, you will present the main characters of your story, outline the conflict, mention setting and any sub-plots if they are important, and summarize the resolution. If you know it, this is a good time to present your theme in a few words. By the way, it's perfectly acceptable to write all this down on one or two index cards and read from them. Editors understand you're nervous and it's most important that you present your idea without stuttering and stumbling.

Rule #4 The presentation. Take a deep breath; relax. (Yeah, right.) Okay, look relaxed. She knows you're nervous but no editor has ever bitten any author during an interview. Part of your object during this interview is to begin to establish a relationship, so that you're more than a name on a piece of paper. Smile, say hello, introduce yourself. Place your business card on the table in front of the editor. You don't have much time, so no more than a brief exchange of pleasantries is called for. Then launch right into your presentation.

Rule #5 Don't worry about how perfectly you pitch your idea. Unless it's obviously impossible for her line (and it better not be, if you're taking up her time with an appointment), most editors will ask to see it. It will stand on its merits, just like every other manuscript that lands on her desk, whether or not she met the writer face-to-face in an 8-minute appointment.

Rule #6 After the interview. Now you're going to follow up on that brilliant introduction. You send the stuff when you promise it. It's polished and professionally presented. You don't call every day to check on your submission, but you also don't neglect to follow up at all.

But if you don't get an appointment with a particular editor, or if you're terrible in that type of pressure situation, don't worry. There are other equally (if not more) valuable ways to start to form a relationship with an editor you want to work with. Volunteer to pick her up at the airport, or to moderate her workshop. Man the editor/agents appointments desk. Sit next to her at dinner. Introduce yourself at the cocktail party. You'll get more time with her, you'll come off as a real person instead of the top of a head bent over an index card, and she'll be more relaxed, too.

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