Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
At conferences, sometimes awkward moments happen that I wish to avoid. These are caused by conferees who don’t yet know the “rules of conference etiquette.” Here are my suggestions for you as you strive to make your best impression on agents and editors:
1) Make an appointment to talk with a faculty member. It really isn’t okay to pitch a project to a faculty member in the bathroom.
If you don’t have an appointment with someone, but you want to talk with him or her, ask the person you’re approaching if he has time to talk to you for X amount of time (30 seconds, 5 minutes, etc). If the answer is no, and the faculty member doesn’t look like he is scrambling to get to the class he is teaching, ask to set up a time. Try to approach the faculty member when he or she could easily pull out the schedule to write you in.
2) If you’re pitching a project during a meal, be sure to give the rest of the table time to talk. If the conferees don’t remember to let everyone have a turn, the faculty member hosting the table has to “referee.” I don’t look good in vertical stripes. I was never meant to be a referee, so please remember to keep your pitch brief. This shows your respect for everyone, and trust me, the host of the table will remember you dominated the conversation–and that won’t be a good way to make yourself memorable.
3) When you’re pitching your project to an agent or editor, never use lines like, “God told me you’re supposed to be my agent” or “God told me this publishing house is going to publish my project.” I feel bad when I don’t agree with what God has told you. It creates an awkward situation. If God really has told you that, then my representing you will come about without your telling me what God has revealed to you.
5) This might be the most important thing to remember. You have something to offer the other conferees. You can be a source of encouragement. You can discuss ideas together. You can reach out to those who look lonely. We all know how hard it is to be the one person at a conference who doesn’t know anybody, so why not reach out to the people around you. During a conference, we receive a lot, but we can give a lot, too!
Fun Fact About Rachel:
Since I’m going to the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, I’ll tell you about my first and only other time in Florida. Our family flew to Florida on my 7th birthday (it was a family vacation, not a birthday trip), and while we were there, I got to hold a newborn bobcat, and I fed marshmallows to baby alligators. We also went to Disney World, but I don’t remember it very well.