Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Meetings are an integral part of writers’ conferences. You have a chance to meet with other writers, agents, and editors. Here are my suggestions for your meetings with agents (most of these tips are good for all of your meetings). Please follow these relatively simple guidelines. They will help you, I promise!
Make smart appointments: Schedule your meetings with agents who are actually looking for your type of material. Do your research before hand. (Check out agencies web sites to get a feel for the type of material they represent and the clients they represent.) Also, if you don’t have a manuscript ready, you might want to meet with a freelance writer who will critique your work rather than with an agent.
Arrive on time: I understand how difficult this can be when conference schedules are so compact, but if you miss your meeting or arrive late, you’re wasting an agent’s time and you’ve also wasted the time slot for other writers who want to meet with that agent.
Come prepared: Know what you want to say. Don’t be nervous about writing out your questions and referring to them during the meeting.
Know your story: Be able to quickly tell the entire story (fiction) or point (nonfiction) of your project (beginning, middle and end). Write out your brief description if you need to. Make every word count–and be sure to leave the agent some time at the end of the appointment to respond to your idea.
Stay within your time limit: It’s awkward for an agent to have to cut you off while you’re making your pitch. Please respect the writers waiting to meet with the agent by keeping within the time constraint of the meeting.
Carry business cards: An agent meets with so many authors that I find it helpful to have a business card with your picture on it to take back to the office.
Don’t try to give the agent your proposal during the meeting: Be sure to have copies of your proposal with you at the conference, but don’t expect an agent to request a copy of the project to take immediately. Most of the time an agent has traveled by airplane to reach the conference and there’s no room in a suitcase for many proposals. Typically an agent will ask you to mail or email a proposal to the the agency’s office. If the agent wants to see a copy of the proposal during the conference, you can give it to him or her at a meal or sometime later if you don’t have it on hand during the meeting.
Carry notepaper and a pen: Agents will usually give you some feedback on a project. Take notes on the suggestions. Believe me, you won’t be able to remember what an agent said by the end of the conference. Your brain will be overloaded with information.
What tips do you have that you could share with other conference attendees about appointments?
Tune in tomorrow for marketing tips from Kathleen. I’ll be back with more on writers’ conferences on Thursday.
Fun Fact about Rachel: Every time I’ve had a roommate at a writers’ conference, my roommate has been sick. I hope this statistic changes soon, but I’ve learned to carry vitamin C!