One of the great tools that you as a writer have is the setting of a writers conference to wield your publishing prowess and show an editor or agent what genius ideas you have for your next (or first) book. We as agents or editors come onto the stage hoping to see some great talent that we believe will be a good match for one of our well-intended suitors/publishers. It is a bit like a good match making game.
What you have to offer fits (or in some cases doesn’t fit and that isn’t a personal slight - we just can’t take everything we see) with what we’re working on with publishers. We generally know right away whether it’s going to be something we’re interested in or not. You can help us in the process by having a 2-minute sound bite that tells us a) what the book is about, b) what problem or issue your book is the answer to, and c) why you are the person to write it.
As agents, we also want to see a fully-developed book proposal (even for fiction) and sample chapters where we can get a feel for your writing. But we want you to tell us about your book while we talk with you – not just hand us a proposal and ask us to read it. We want to see that when given the opportunity (for the publisher and future media interviews), you can effectively (and quickly!) relate what your book is about in a way that intrigues us and makes us want to hear more.
I also find it helpful to have a one-page with your photo on it and some background information on you, bullet points that talk about the key factors for your fiction or non-fiction book, and how we can reach you. You would be surprised how many writers don’t provide their email address anywhere on their documents. The photo helps us to remember meeting you and our conversation about your book.
At the conference, I’ll specifically be talking with writers about what makes a good agent and how to be your best publicist. I believe these two areas are critical for writers who want to advance their writing careers to the next level and who want to be smart about how they are handling the business side of writing (why having an agent makes sense) and how to publicize your book since this is an area that is no longer just a good idea, but a necessity.
I look forward to meeting you and talking with you at the conference. I hope your time at the conference will be profitable. Take the time to meet and talk with as many of the faculty as you can because they provide valuable feedback and ideas for you. And enjoy this time of being with other writers and professionals—just the focused time on writing and publishing is as valuable as the contacts you will make.
Blythe Daniel, The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc.