Monday, January 09, 2012

Connecting to Agents and Editors

All of us writers out there want to be published, right? Yeah. Otherwise what’s the point of all this writing? :)

One good step toward attaining that goal is to connect with agents and editors. An easy way to do that is by going to conferences and workshops where they will be in attendance. Listen to what they say when they speak, take notes on the things that resonate with you, and use that information in your query letter when you submit to them. It shows them that you’re serious and you pay attention, both good things.

You can also try to connect with them after the conference is over (there is often a mix-n-mingle afterward). But, that is NOT the place to pitch your story. The only place acceptable for pitching your story is in a query letter, so keep it there. However, you can talk to the agent or editor about current publishing trends, what they’re working on, what books they have coming out soon, etc. You can also find out how they work. If it’s an agent, you can find out a bit about her communication styles. If it’s an editor, you can find out how the acquisition process works at her publishing house. There are plenty of things to talk about that have nothing to do with your book, and this will leave them with a good and professional impression of you.

If it’s not feasible for you to attend any conferences or workshops, there are still ways of making a connection. Many agents and editors have blogs. Read them. Get a feel for their style and work ethic and see if it matches up with yours. If anything they have to say resonates with you, include it in your query. This shows them that you’ve done your research and might be more fun to work with than a newbie.

What if you want to query an agent or editor that doesn’t have a blog? Not to worry. It’s harder in this case, but certainly not impossible to find ways of connecting with them. Agents and editors often give interviews, so if you search for that on the internet you’ll likely find something. You can also research which books they’ve edited and/or represented. Make a note of why the content or style of those books fit with yours.

Basically, when you’re submitting, the bottom line here is this: Why did you choose this particular person? Why do you think the two of you would make a good team? They need to know this. Cold queries will sometimes result in a contract, but the market is getting tougher every day so why wouldn’t you use every advantage you can? It would be pretty silly not to. :)

How many of you send out targeted queries vs. cold queries? What has been your general response?


LM Preston said...

I love conferences! Meeting agents and editors up front allows you to learn that they are people too!

T.D. McFrost said...

This is great! Thanks for posting this.

Kelly Hashway said...

When I was querying, I tried to target every agent I subbed to. Their time is limited. You need to give them a good reason to use their time considering your work. Great post, Tabitha.

cleemckenzie said...

It's the team aspect that's vital. So hard to know until you work together, but if you connect and are compatible it's wonderful.

Tabitha said...

LM - it sure does. It's so easy to see them as all powerful beings, isn't it? :)

TD - thanks! :)

Kelly - I did, too. I couldn't always target, but I tried really hard to find a way to connect on some level. It helped to at least get a response, I think.

Tabitha said...

Lee - so true!!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Very good advice. I look to see what books an agent or editor has worked on. Have only attended a couple of conferences but loved them. Wish I could go to more.