Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Five Best Ways to Meet an Editor

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 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. 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!


  1. Do you mean follow it? Or subscribe by e-mail? I just signed up as follower and there are already four...this is going to be a close call. *grin*
    Now that I've finished the mad rush to follow you, I'm actually going to read your post. :-)
    Welcome to blogland!

  2. Well, I have to admit that this idea of you traveling has me giddy with excitement because it means I'll get to see more of you. And for those of you who might not realize what a phenomenal opportunity it would be for an aspiring author to meet with someone of Barbara's caliber, let me staple the Sandie seal of approval to Barbara's fanny. :-) She is one of those editors you hear about, but feel like their existence might be a myth.

  3. Barbara, Welcome to the blogosphere. In no time you'll be so accomplished you'll be blogging in your sleep. (Although, as a roving editor, maybe you won't be getting much sleep except on planes).

    Travel the blogosphere safely, don't forget to fasten your seat belt, and if the atmosphere gets too rarified, an oxygen mask above your computer will drop down. Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  4. Ahhh, Sandie's seal on your fanny. Interesting place. LOL

    This sounds like a great opportunity for writers and hopefully it'll be fun for you! Thanks for the tips on what to do when we meet one of you elusive beings. :-) Looking forward to more posts...

  5. Barbara, I'm so excited for you! This new adventure will be so much fun! I can't wait until you come to my area. Maybe we'll be able to grab that lunch we talked about last March!

  6. Welcome! I look forward to reading more from you.

  7. Barbara, what a great opportunity for writers. Thanks for offering it.


  8. Dear Barbara! This is wonderful. And I love your blue skies. This will be so helpful to writers. I'm looking forward to being a follower of your blog. I really enjoyed this post, and will pass on the blog address to potential authors! And I'm really looking forward to your coming to California and if it can be around the awards show, and I'd love to have you and your husband as my special guests!
    Susan Wales

  9. Barbara,
    I'm so proud of you making this leap to the blogosphere!

    The workshops are terrific ideas. And I sure hope your Roving Editor self sashays on down to New Orleans. Contrary to popular belief, we still do have edible seafood.

  10. Congratulations and welcome to the internet world madame Editor! I'm glad you're embracing the technology! If you need any help with Blogger just ring. I work behind the scenes for Google on the Blogger Help Forum :-)

  11. This is an awesome, Barbara. You are truly one of a kind. I am excited about the workshops and hope we can pull one together in Maryland sometime soon.

  12. Great to see you out here in cyberspace, Barb! Your new roving status sounds so exciting. Looking forward to hearing about all your adventures :+}

  13. Hi Barbara,
    I've read a couple of books published by Abingdon recently, Code Blue by Dr. Richard Mabry and A Narrow Path by Gail Sattler and enjoyed them thoroughly, even though they're not in genre I normally read or write in.

    I've met you at Mt. Hermon before, and I hope to see you at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis.

  14. Barbara, how fun to hear of this new phase for you. You'll have to plan another UK trip - this time when I'm here! :) I've been reading so much of your Abingdon fiction; well done for starting up such a strong line. Just now finished The Narrow Way, and before that They Almost Always Come Home. Loved the latter particularly, as I used to go on canoe trips in the BWCA every year.

    I wonder if I can make a pointer for fiction writers out there? I live as a Yank in London, and love language. One phrase really jars here in the UK - 'let me staple the Sandie seal of approval to Barbara's fanny.' A woman's fanny in the UK is a very private part, which would never be discussed in Christian fiction! I mention this because an American Christian novel I read recently had this word (sorry, I don't remember which and I don't think it was an Abingdon one), and it felt like it flew off the page and slapped me, even though that was certainly not the intention of the writer. A simple thing to change to make your novel more accessible for an international market!

    Look forward to hearing your adventures, Barbara.

  15. I'm one of hundreds--you have to agree--that have just found a new, amazing blog to follow. Thank you Barbara!!

    Love the concept of the roving editor. Abington's lineup is so impressive. I appreciate seeing the quarterly releases side by side in all their glory.

    Enjoy your travels and all the blessings that will come of it--for yourself and appreciative writers.

  16. Waytago, pal. So glad to see you getting this project started.

    One thing I'd change however, regarding your post. The best way to to meet an editor is to have her over to your house--and watch her reaction as a bear emerges from the woods.

    "IS that a DOG??!!"

  17. What a cool person you are for doing this, Barbara. You're not only doing a great thing for Abingdon, but for writers as well.

  18. Hi Barbara,

    Great idea to travel and probably have fun at the same time. I just followed your blog. I hope you will check out and follow mine. It's a collection of fun facts based on my new novel titled Rebirth, about the rebirth of Israel. The story highlights numerous startling facts that were either not publicized at all or underplayed. For example nobody knows who arrested and imprisoned more Jews in the 1940s second only to the Nazis. It would surprised you.

    Many blessings,
    Dave Longeuay
    I am currently available for submitting my finished manuscript.

  19. I missed this but will still sign up! Love to learn:)

  20. Ugh-- it won't let me sign up as a follower!!

  21. Great Blog! Come to Dallas, Texas, okay?
    Robin Shope Jansen

  22. Good info... keep 'em coming... Blessings...

  23. This will be a great blog and I'm looking forward to what you will be posting.

    I'm almost done reading Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales for review for Church Libraries magazine. This is cutting edge fiction in this category. Hope it's a book that does well because I would love to see more like it.

  24. Hi everyone!

    I'm absolutely overwhelmed at the response to what I thought would be a tiny little blog. (I know...adverbs are naughty, but I couldn't resist using "absolutely" :)

    When you come to the end of one chapter of your life, the Lord writes the last paragraph to make sure you turn the page as fast as possible. Endings are only beginnings, and I couldn't have written a better twist to my story.

    Be obedient, He says, in the little things, and He will give you the desires of your heart. What I had planned for this time of my life was so much smaller than God's plan. And it all started with a niggle to write a blog.

    Let's have fun and encourage one another as we follow God's path. What an amazing journey life is! I'll see you in Dallas and Tampa and Orlando and Philadelphia and Tulsa and New Orleans and Las Vegas and Los Angeles and all points in between. Not on the same trip of course. :)


  25. Wow, Dallas, count me in! I found this blog through Twitter so the social networking works!

  26. Hope to see you in a city near me...Tennessee.

  27. That's great, Teri! When I schedule Dallas, I'll announce it here and on my website (I should have one by then. LOL)

    And Meredith, since I live in the Nashville area, this venue will definitely be on my list.

  28. Looking forward to your next West Coast swing! I don't raise bears, dogs or pneumonia germs in my backyard--I promise! ;-)

  29. So glad that you entered the blogsphere, Barbara. Camy Tang posted the info at her site. Happy to hear that you'll be at the Greater Philly conference in Aug. Nice to see Amy from the Woman Alive Book Club, U.K. I've lived in England. My British hubby told me to my embarrassment about "fanny" and other words that I use here that wouldn't be acceptable in Christian circles in England. I'm looking forward to reading your posts and learning more about you and the industry.

  30. Welcome, Pat! Yes, I need to ask Amy about all those other embarrassing words that we need to avoid so that our UK friends will feel more at home. I'll pop over to Camy's blog and find her posting.

    And thanks, Rick, for your assurances. You know how I feel about big black dogs that look like bears and vis versa. This year, I'm getting a pneumonia shot! Hmmm, I wonder if I could work that into a blog posting. ;-)