The Freelance Writing Organization - Int'l Writing Links and Resources www.fwointl.com
A free site that hosts thousands of writing resources and links in a massive online database. 40+ genres, funds for writers, job listings, education, news, submission calls, research library. Resources range from adventure to westerns, agents to publishers. Professional resources for editors, journalists and writers.
I'm about to attend my first writers conference where I will have the opportunity to meet with an agent about my novel. Some of my friends tell me I should take my manuscript with me to give to her when we meet. Others tell me not to do that. Who should I believe? What should I do?
A: Dear Donna,
First, let me say that it's wonderful you're going to a writers conference and that you're taking advantage of the opportunity to meet with an agent. Whether or not you can interest her in your manuscript, you stand to learn a lot. That said, I have to agree with those friends who say not to bring your manuscript with you. Do not hand your manuscript over to the agent.
I don't know how far this agent is traveling to be at this particular conference, but I can be fairly certain she doesn't want to leave with a totebag full of manuscripts. If you can interest her in your manuscript, she will ask you to send it or some portion of it to her after the conference. Remember, these conference meetings have three purposes: pitch the idea of your book to an agent or editor; gauge their interest; and get some professional feedback. You can optimize your meeting by doing five things.
First, prepare an "elevator speech" about your book. That is, prepare a two-minute description of your book that includes plot highlights, characters, and ending. Don't be afraid of giving away the ending. For example, if you've written a mystery, the agent will want to know who did it. Don't keep her in suspense. Neither you nor she have time for that sort of game, and the more games you play, the less professionalism you project. Be articulate and enthusiastic. Show what a great job you can do of promoting your book to the public by promoting your book to the agent. Make your enthusiasm contagious.
Second, give straightforward answers to the questions she may ask about your book or you. You only have a few minutes of her undivided attention, so make the most of it.
Third, if you have piqued her interest, she will ask you to send her some portion of your manuscript, or the whole thing. When you get home from the conference, send her only what she has asked for.
Fourth, take your cue from her words and/or body language. When the meeting is over, you'll know it. Graciously thank her for her time and hand her your business card. Do not have the words "writer," "author," "freelancer," or other such adjective on your card. If you belong to a large writer's organization such as National Writers Association or Writers League of Texas, it's fine to indicate your membership on your card.
Fifth, during the rest of the conference when you see the agent, be polite. Ask if she's having a nice time and if there's anything you can do to enhance her time at the conference. At any social times, make small talk about travel, weather, in short, anything but your book.
As a result of your good manners, when your manuscript lands on her desk, (with your business card paper clipped to the cover letter), she will remember you as a pleasant, professional writer, who enthusiastically and articulately presented her work; a good mindset for her to have when she reads your manuscript.
Have a great time at the conference.
Q: Dear Joan,
I'm in the process of writing a formal proposal for a nonfiction book. I know part of what I need to include in the proposal is a promotional plan. What should that include? And why should I have to do this? Doesn't the publisher do all the promotion for my book?Gene Baker
A: Dear Gene,
When you present your manuscript or proposal to a publisher, you are in essence asking them to act as your investment banker. They, in turn, will want to know what you will do to insure a return on their investment in you; thus, the request for a promotional plan. When you write your plan, keep that in mind and give specifics of what you will do.
Here are some key points to include with your plan:
Now go for it!
© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law:
"Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."