Acquisitions editors are the busiest people I know and the most elusive. If we admit what we do for a living, people want to send us their grandmother’s self-published poetry or a best friend’s novel that she wrote in high school. We may be your next door neighbor or the guy who picks up his dry cleaning every Saturday morning, but you’ll never know. We’re not flashy dressers. We don’t talk about publishing trends in the checkout line. And at parties, if someone asks us what we do for a living, we mumble and then wave at an imaginary friend. “Nice meeting you,” we say before darting to the other side of the room.
Then how can a writer catch a break? Ah, grasshopper, you must know the secret lives of editors…not bees. Following are the 5 best ways to meet an editor:
1. Make friends with other writers, especially those who have published at least one book. They’ve made the leap and most are willing to help you achieve your dreams. Attend their workshops at writers’ conferences and please don’t act like a stalker. Listen and ask intelligent questions. Learn the craft of writing, as well as marketing, your book. Then write an actual manuscript. You’d be surprised how many people have an idea for a novel, but have never applied their behinds to the seat of a chair. How can meeting other authors help you meet an editor? Published authors know editors, and if you have actually written an entire manuscript that other authors like, they’ll be more than willing to give you a recommendation.
2. With your polished manuscript nearby, query agents (make sure to read their guidelines for submission) or pitch your project to an agent at a writers’ conference. Attend the best conference you can afford. One of the perks of attending a conference is that you can request an appointment with an agent. Agents know editors. They know if your manuscript is ready to be published. Listen to their advice and rewrite your manuscript if necessary. An agent can be your ticket to meeting an acquisitions editor.
3. Acquisitions editors attend writers’ conferences as well. They set up appointments with agents. They take 15-minute appointments with conferees. Sometimes they will agree to critique your manuscript for a fee. Don’t waste your 15 minutes. I can’t tell you how many people have sat across the table from me and pitched a project that our company would never publish. Not every publisher has jumped on the vampire bandwagon . . . or Volvo.
4. Attend workshops taught by editors. For instance, I teach workshops that vary from character development to how to self-edit your novel. Some of us will even hold evening roundtables. Not me. I’m an early to bed, early to rise kind of person. But you might smile and say hi at the coffee bar early the next morning. I may not be coherent, but I’ve been known to sit down and have a nice little chat with a newbie writer. But remember, no stalking behavior. No passing manuscripts under the bathroom stall to an editor. Yes, Virginia, this has happened before and you, too, will gain a reputation as a crazy person. And no following an editor to their hotel room door. This is especially creepy.
5. Attend a daylong intensive workshop with an editor or a small group of writers and editors. Some editors and writers have even scheduled whole cruises around a writing theme. I’m looking into this because I think my creative juices would really flow in that atmosphere of free food, sun, and tropical breezes. However, the price could be prohibitive for most writers, especially unpublished writers, but it’s a nice excuse for a vacation.
As of August 1, I will no longer hide in my cubicle at Abingdon Press. Instead, I’m hitting the road as The Roving Editor and sharing my experience in a town near you. Here’s my plan:
I’ll still be the exclusive acquisitions editor for Abingdon fiction, but I’ll also be dropping by the homes of my existing authors (and agents) and brainstorming new projects. They can feel free to invite their writing buddies or critique group friends for a “meet and greet” in a local bookstore or wherever they like to hang out.
I’ll schedule a daylong writing intensive workshop in the area so that writers can spend time honing their craft with me and perhaps with one of my authors. There will be plenty of time to discuss ideas, work on story, characters, plotting, dialogue, setting, and narrative description in an encouraging atmosphere. Come ready to write and expect useful critiques.
Our first Roving Editor Intensive Writing Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, August 21, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Springton Lake Presbyterian Church in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Joyce Magnin, author of the award-winning book The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow and her next Bright’s Pond novel Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise will be on hand to offer her expertise as well. Fee: $159 per person. Includes a light lunch. Feel free to bring your favorite snacks. Dress is casual.
I’ll attend numerous writing workshops during the coming year, where I’ll teach the craft of writing, answer questions, and meet with conferees.
During August 12-14, 2010 I’ll meet with attendees during 15-minute slots at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Check out the details at http://www.writehisanswer.com/philadelphia if you would like to sign up. I’ll also teach a workshop and meet with conferees during the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Annual Conference set for September 17-20, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis, IN. http://www.acfw.com/conference/ I’ll update you later on my full schedule.
I’ll also offer one-on-one mentoring sessions where we’ll laser focus on your writing and the next steps of your writing journey. This can be done over the phone or in person if I’m in your area. Fee: $100 for a half-hour session.
The first 5 people to subscribe to The Roving Editor blog
will receive a free 15-minute mentoring session by phone!