Sunday, September 17, 2006

I went into my first conference without the benefit of a mentor. Choosing my editor/agent appointments was interesting, to say the least. At most, it was hit or miss. Thankfully, God was with me as, with fingers shaking, I made my selections.

The next two years, being much more informed (grin), I researched each editor/agent carefully, perused and pored over each publisher’s guidelines, and with fingers shaking, I made my selections. Somehow, I still got the feeling that it was hit or miss.

What makes this year different? Time and connections.

It’s not enough to check out a publisher’s website for guidelines. I’ve discovered that one of the many valuable assets to attending writer’s conferences is the things you learn in the hotel lobby, or the even the bathroom! People talk, mostly about which house acquiring, and who sold what to whom. This stuff is invaluable, folks.

The editor/agent panels are also wonderful tools when used correctly. Take notes! Though the business can change over the course of a year, much of what you learn regarding a house or agency remains the same, even a particular editor or agent moves on.

And don’t overlook writer’s loops. Even casual conversation can be important. When someone announces a book sale, I’m careful to examine what they sold, and who they sold to. Several times, I’ve been surprised to learn that a house I didn’t think was acquiring historicals, for example, bought not one, but a series, and so on.

Sound like an involved process? That’s because it is. In a nutshell, scheduling your editor/agent appointments is the culmination of a year long process of researching, listening, and asking questions, but don’t be dismayed if you’re just now getting started. ACFW is wonderful about updating news and information before the conference begins. The next step will be to start planning for 2007’s conference, the day after this one begins.


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