Last week I had lunch with an editor, and despite the ridiculous heat in New York, I had such a fabulous time. This is an editor whom I’ve talked to on the phone a number of times, but surprisingly never met. The two and a half hours we spent together flew by through identical lunch orders, a shared dessert, and coffee despite the heat.
So what did we do and what did we talk about? Interestingly enough these lunches, while entirely about business, are in some ways not at all about business. We talked about kids, life in the suburbs, our hobbies and backgrounds. In a nutshell, we got to know each other. While I don’t think agents need to spend every day having lunches with editors (at 2.5 hours a shot, who has the time?), I do think these lunches are an essential part of the business. Because of a few hours spent over omelets and dessert I know a whole heck of a lot about this editor’s personal likes, dislikes, and interests in addition to those genres she is buying for. It’s really easy to tell someone that you are looking for erotica, romance, mystery, and nonfiction, but how your personal tastes vary when it comes to those genres can only be learned by spending some quality time together.
Some of the things that have come out of my lunches with editors include a submission to an unlikely source, a book that began as a simple conversation, and a lasting business relationship. Because of a lunch I’ve learned that an editor who I assumed was only buying romance was also looking for erotica—and I sold her an erotica. Because of a lunch I learned that a mystery editor was dying to see a mystery with a certain hook—I called an author, had her write a proposal, and we sold a mystery series. And because of lunches I’ve developed a working friendship with a number of talented editors whom I hope to do a lot of business with now and in the future.