Preparing for Your Appointments

Preparing for Your Appointments
with Editors and Agents

If you’re nervous about signing up for an appointment with an editor or agent, you’re in good company. Most writers find that their hands get sweaty and their hearts begin to pound at the thought of meeting an editor face-to-face. But as with anything else, it gets easier through the doing—and through going into the experience prepared to "put your best foot forward." How?

1. Do your homework. A good place to begin is with the charts of Editorial Needs and Agents Interests that our Appointments Coordinator, Barb Haley, is preparing. Once they are ready, you’ll find them along with a link to print them as a PDF on the faculty bio pages for Agents & Other Professionals and Editors. It’s important to also make time to study their bios and additional info on their editorial needs. Then visit their website and review their writers’ guidelines. (The charts and bios will be posted after the May 15-18 Colorado conference.)

2. Bring a manuscript targeted to the editor’s readership and editorial needs—not to what you think his needs should be. It’s very unwise to tell an editor, "God told me to write this and to submit it to you." Yes, God does speak to us, but He may not have spoken the same thing to the editor. A "God told me" attitude or hard-sell approach is not going to help you make a positive impression.

3. Make sure your work looks professional. Use a Times or a Roman font in at least 12 or 13 points. Double space your manuscript and leave at least a 1" margin on all sides. Bring a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) in case the editor wants to take the manuscript with him. Always keep a copy for your files. If you are presenting a book manuscript, in addition to a One Sheet (click here for a sample), we recommend you bring a complete proposal and the first chapter. NOTE: There is no need to bring your complete book manuscript.

4. Editors are speed readers but don’t expect them to read your entire manuscript. They can often tell from the first paragraph whether or not it’s for them. If they aren’t interested in what you’ve brought, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in another idea you may have. Talk to them. Get to know them. They really won’t bite.

5. Be considerate. We’re packing a lot into these three days and are running on a tight schedule. Please don’t cut into another writer’s appointment time by taking more time than has been scheduled for you. And please be understanding of our need to schedule appointments during workshops. There is just no other time available. You do not, however, need to miss an entire workshop to keep your appointment. Feel free to get to workshops late or to leave during them and to return. And remember the conference is being recorded!

6. Relax. The editors at this conference also love the Lord and are seeking to serve Him the same as you are. Trust the Lord to open the right door at the right time for your work.

7. After the conference, be sure to follow through on ideas or manuscripts you discussed with editors that they expressed interest in considering. Write and thank them for their time and interest. Let them know when they can expect to receive your manuscript on speculation (interest expressed at a conference doesn’t guarantee a sale), and then don’t procrastinate!

Pointers for Submitting a Book Proposal

1. Be prepared to present your idea in ONE sentence. This shows the editor that it’s tightly focused.

2. Be prepared to answer these questions (either verbally or preferably in a written proposal):

3. Unless the editor or agent requests otherwise, for nonfiction bring a one-sheet (click here for a sample), your table of contents, a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, and your first chapter. For fiction bring a one-sheet, 1-3 page single-spaced synopsis in present tense, and the first chapter.

4. If the editor says it’s not right for his house, determine not to get defensive or discouraged. This same editor may be able to give you some excellent pointers on how to improve your manuscript and/or market it—if you’re listening.