Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Should You Take to Editor/Agent Appointments?

Years ago, as a first time conference attendee, I took a fiction book proposal of 30+ pages for about six editors. That proposal, which I had spent blood, sweat, toil and tears on, weighted down my suitcase all the way to the conference--and all the way back home. I learned in those 15-minute appointments that editors don't want a full proposal, at least not from new writers, at a conference appointment. But what do they want?

That's not saying we may ever know what ALL of them prefer, but I do know what some want, especially those who came to our great March Carolina Christian Writers' Workshop in Anderson, SC, which I directed. Just maybe your targeted editors would like the same or similar. So sit down with some chocolate and a cup of tea for a moment or two. Something here may inspire, instruct or maybe, surprise you.

Abingdon Press Fiction Editor Ramona Richards (quoted)
"I'd like to see a business card (free ones are available from; inexpensive ones from and for each author to have their elevator pitch memorized and polished. They should be prepared to answer questions about their protagonist, antagonist, various plot elements--and themselves. Authors can bring anything along they want to help them, but I'll only be accepting business cards."

Acquisitions Editor Rick Steele, AMG Publishing 
Rick told me on the phone that he would like to see a writing sample - an outline, or a synopsis, or a chapter by chapter outline/synopsis and a brief marketing comparison of current books on the market similar to yours and how yours will be different. He also likes to hear 50-word pitches and he sent me his submission guidelines for queries and full proposals to share which you can get by googling AMG Publishing. He prefers
queries before a full proposal on non-fiction or fiction.
Literary Agent Tamela Hancock Murray (quoted)
"An elevator pitch, a one-sheet, a synopsis, the first page, a chapter, a business card and brief bio are all great, especially if the author has only one project. I recommend a one-sheet for each project, or if its a series, then a paragraph devoted to each book in the series on the one sheet. I am happy with the author's bio and pic on the one-sheet. I don't need that and a business card if the author doesn't have them."

For those who might need to know, a One-Sheet contains: a photo of author with name and contact info, a blurb of the book project(s). If you have room, you can add: possible endorsers, a brief list of comparable books, a relevant illustration, a small bio. You  can google One Sheets for examples. Kaye Dacus has a
good example on the net, too.

Did you notice how many times the word "pitch" came up above?

Here is a tip from Robin Perini, quoted a while back by Treble Books Publisher, Lee Emory, that has helped me. Robin relates pitches for fiction to the story question.

(Your Protagonist)________________MUST_________________(Critical

Plot Goal) BY___________________(Conflict with the Antagonist, etc.),

ONLY TO REALIZE_______________________(What the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during the journey of the book)

Here is an example Robin gave: Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' father, only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Here is what I finally wrote (and keep writing) for my Christian romance, Charleston Nanny

Rachel an orphaned college girl, determines to unearth the facts about her brother's death by going to Charleston as a nanny on a tea plantation, only to discover that the truth may destroy her new found love and could cost her life.

Hope this blog has been some help!  Keep on studying to show yourself approved and keep on WRITING.
We will get off unpubbed island!    Blessings, Elva