It can be intimidating the first time you meet an agent and editor. I’ve compiled a few quick hints below to ensure you get the most out of interacting with an editor or agent. First, let’s discuss talking to an agent or an editor “in the wild.”
· Remember, if you’re not published yet, then you don’t need to be a professional. Only published authors need to worry about a brand. You can pretty much do whatever you want. This includes high fives and butt slaps.
· When an agent or editor comes to a conference, they don’t know anybody. It’s quite lonely, so be sure to go up and talk to them. Early and often. Over and over again. The more, the merrier. We want them to feel our love! (And even our desperation!)
· If you see others talking to an agent or editor, remember that they are likely not talking about anything. At least not as important as your book. So feel free to push to the front of the crowd. God gave you elbows. Use them!
· Agents and editors have no personal space. That’s a scientific fact. Feel free to get as close to them as you want.
· If you see an agent or editor eating alone, invite yourself over and engage in a conversation. This also goes for if you see them sitting on a chair or a couch alone, talking on the phone, trying to get into their hotel room, standing at a urinal, etc., get up in their face. They love it!
· It’s important to remember that while technically agents and editors are people too, they have no feelings. This is how they can tell people “No” all day. This means you can say anything you’d like to them and they won’t feel bad. You can insult “traditional publishing,” you can call them “Gatekeepers,” you can even take out any anger and frustration that other agents and editors have caused you on the agent or editor in front of you. Cursing is encouraged. It helps you feel better about yourself. Remember, they feel nothing, they’re agents and editors!
If you happened to have paid for a pitch (which is silly, since you can pitch your book anytime at the conference, including if they are on a panel), make the most of it. Here are a few tips and tricks for your pitch.
· Remember, they call it an elevator pitch because it should take roughly the same amount of time as an elevator ride. Luckily for you, if you press all 118 buttons of the Hong-Chi skyscraper in Chaohu, China, the ride takes exactly twenty-two minutes and forty-five seconds. So that is how much time you have to play with.
· Agents and editors love powerpoint slides when you’re making a pitch.
· When the person managing the time of the pitch says you have ten minutes, that’s a very rough estimate. If things are going well, you can stretch that to a good half hour or so. Also, if things are going poorly, you should definitely stretch it to at least an hour, to help improve things.
· If an agent politely tells you no, this is just a test to see how determined you are. Don’t take no for an answer.
· If an agent tells you no five times, you’re doing awesome. Keep pushing!
· If an editor tells you no ten times, it’s pretty much like inviting you back to their hotel room to discuss your manuscript over s’mores and kool-aid.
· Don’t be nervous! There are always garbage cans in the pitch room in which you can vomit.
· It’s absolutely necessary to compare your manuscript to Harry Potter or Twilight. If you don’t, the agent or editor will not take you seriously.
· If the agent or editor hasn’t heard of Harry Potter or Twilight (a distinct possibility), you should summarize all of the novels for them.
· Do not worry about what kind of work the agent or editor usually represents. Once they hear your idea, they’ll probably switch genres just so they can represent you.
· If the pitch goes poorly, don’t worry! This just means they want you to find them again later at the conference, and go deeper into your story.
And there you have it. Follow these simple rules when dealing with agents and editors. You’ll be the next Stephanie Meyer in no time!
To learn more about Marion and his hilarious middle grade book Almost Super, check out his website here.