We’re getting into serious conference season. You’re about to sign up to do a pitch, meet a publishing person for coffee, or a planned walk-by in the hall? Here are some incredibly easy ways to make this go smoothly:
Present your best self. There is no law saying you have to appear a certain way for an editor, but I notice things: a kind smile, general friendliness, cool nailpolish,
maybe jewelry traits that make the writer uniquely herself. The overall package makes an impression. The best impression you can make is if you are fully yourself, open to the entire process, and ready to bring your story out into the world.
Nerves are okay. A compassionate editor will understand and guide you if your mind goes blank. We’ve been there oh so many times. Hello, wobbly knees and shaking hands. When it’s really bad, I do as Ralph Fiennes does in Maid in Manhattan and demolish a paper clip or napkin as I’m speaking. This doesn’t happen as much anymore because of practice. When you pitch a lot, it gets easier.
Memorize the following to where it’s a mantra: My novel, _____, is a _____ word romance/thriller/contemporary novel, targeted for your ______ imprint. It’s the story of _______. From there, you can relax. The details of your story should flow. And if they don’t, fret not! Pitching is still not the most frightening thing in the world. My cooking. That’s way scarier.
Know your publisher and editor (a bonus). The more research you do, the more prepared you’ll feel. Follow us on Twitter or whatever platform we prefer.
Have the goods. It’s one thing to be a great pitcher. It’s another to finish the book. Having a project ready to present will boost your confidence. Want even more confidence? Have that second proposal waiting in the wings.
Be friendly. Unless you get a weird vibe from one of us (it does happen), you can banter with the editor, though given the time limit, you want to get to the point.
Impress me with questions about what I do. This can help your nerves and you will show your engagement.
Spoiler: I will probably ask to read your manuscript unless it’s wildly outside the bounds of our publishing programs.
Now isn’t that easy? One calming last thought is the knowledge that editors are human. You will find us messing with our hair in the bathroom, knocking over people to get to the dessert bar (okay, that’s just me, I think), and obsessing about a book. Next week, I’ll be at a conference and I’m ready to meet some writers.
Are you ready for us?