I have a question for you, as we all approach the “starting bell” for the mad dash of agent and editor appointments at RWA National. For someone like me that writes single-title stories, the almost constant feedback is, “you need an agent.” I agree, no argument there. What I’m wondering is, knowing that I do need an agent, is also taking an editor appointment a good thing or a bad thing? Editors take appointments looking for new ideas and new writers which is wonderful, but if I end up sending something to one of them, before I start working with my dream agent, am I tying that agent’s hands in future marketing opportunities? I know this probably sounds silly and many have suggested I should grab at all opportunities that come my way, but I also know that a huge part of what an agent brings to the writer-agent partnership is knowing which editor will like a certain voice, storyline, type of book, and how to best market it. How high is the risk that I’ll get ahead of that dance and inadvertently close a door that would be better left alone?
There are a lot of good questions here and while I’m definitely going to give my opinion, I suspect that a lot of our readers will be able to chime in with not only their own opinions, but also their own experiences.
I tend to think that pitch appointments are as much about networking as they are about making the pitch. Often before I submit a new client’s work I will ask if she has any editors she would like me to consider. I’m interested in knowing if there are any she’s met at conferences who she really clicked with or if there is anyone she really feels wouldn’t be a good fit for her. If you met someone at a conference and the two of you really hit it off, that could possibly do more to get you in the door than any connections I have with the editor. Now the one caveat to asking my client’s opinions is that if I feel the editor wouldn’t be the best fit we’ll discuss it and see where we end up.
Editors take pitch appointments for the same reason agents do: they are hoping to find really great books, authors and ideas. If you have the opportunity to sign up with an editor you’ve been wanting to meet or think might be right for your book, go ahead and make that appointment. If an editor requests material it’s rare that will hurt your chances. It’s not the same as blindly submitting on your own. If the editor rejects but an agent later asks you to do major revisions, the agent can always requery, and the truth is, a lot of authors sell books because of appointments and get the agent later.
So don’t be afraid to make appointments with whomever might interest you. Think of it as a great opportunity to network. Good luck!