How to Make Agents and Editors Love You
by Michelle Richter, Associate Agent, Fuse Literary
So much of the publishing business is based on making connections, between writers and agents, agents and editors, and that holy grail of editors and authors. Before you wow an agent or editor with your writing, you can impress with the skill you employ in your interactions with them. How do you work effectively with publishing pros so that your goals are theirs?
- Treat writing as a job. Take it seriously and commit regular hours to it. Meet deadlines, put the words on the page. No one will champion your work quite the way you will if you don’t put that work in.
- Always keep learning. Take advantage of opportunities to gain knowledge. This may mean listening to feedback from agents who reject your work, or critique partners who give consistent feedback. It may mean going to writers conferences or taking classes, or reading books in your genre or about the business of creating and submitting queries.
- Ask questions. Most agents and editors are happy to explain the steps of the publishing process or the purposes of the various departments at the publisher, or tell you just what happens next. But consider that one email with ten questions may be preferable to ten emails with one question.
- Use the Golden Rule. “Agents: They’re Just Like Us!” Realize that agents and editors have other obligations, personal and professional, even if they read in their off-hours or send emails at crazy times. They might take a weekend off for a family reunion, or a business trip, just as you would.
- Never Pitch In the Bathroom. Agents and editors go to conferences looking for talent. They want to hear about good stories. But I guarantee you will never find a receptive audience in a restroom.
- Do Your Research. Find that agent or editor who’s looking for work just like yours. I talk to my computer screen, I confess, and a good query makes me audibly react. Well, so does a bad one, to be honest. Isn’t that what you want? Someone who connects with your writing at a gut level?
Do you want to be that dream author I’d happily work with until my dying day? Of course. I’ll talk about how to make that possible, and what pitfalls to avoid, and so much more, at my workshop, Working Effectively with Publishing Professionals, on Saturday, October 25. See you in Myrtle Beach!
Michelle Richter has a degree in Economics with a minor in Russian from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and left a career in finance and banking for publishing. She joined St. Martin’s Press’ editorial department in 2006 after obtaining a Masters in Publishing from PaceUniversity. While at St. Martin’s, Michelle edited MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL by Melissa Joan Hart, among others, and worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction.Michelle is primarily seeking fiction, specifically book club reads, literary fiction, and well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers and mysteries (amateur sleuth, police procedurals and smart cozies). Her favorite authors include Laura Lippman, Harlan Coben, Richard Russo, Tom Perrotta, Chelsea Cain, and Gillian Flynn. For nonfiction, she’s interested in fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics for trade audiences. She has a soft spot for fiction and nonfiction in and about Boston/Massachusetts, Ireland, and Russia.You can follow Michelle on Twitter at @michrichter1.