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12 Questions to End Publishing Small Talk

Let’s face it, those conference networking events are full of anxiety and nervousness. You know you’re supposed to talk with agents and editors and make a ton of small talk. You also hate small talk. Everyone hates small talk.

Inspired by a Small Talk article on, I’ve both stolen and created twelve questions authors can ask to help you banish small talk from publishing parties forever.

12 questions to kill the small talk

  1. What’s your story/how did you get into agenting/editing?
  2. What excites you most (about your job)?
  3. What would you want every client to know about you?
  4. What subject matter do you never want to read about? Why?
  5. If writers could walk away tonight with any one bit of knowledge what would you want to teach them?
  6. If you could represent/edit only one author who would it be and why?
  7. When was the last time you failed spectacularly at something?
  8. What do you value more, book smarts or street sense?
  9. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from one of your clients?
  10. If there’s one thing you could do while here (at the conference or in the city) what would it be?
  11. If you had to pick any character in a book, movie or TV show who is most similar to you, who would it be? Why?
  12. How different is your job today from when you started in publishing?

Good luck and enjoy!

Category: Blog



  1. Those are questions that would loosen my hinges, too, and they apply for almost all fields (not sure I’d ask morgue workes and plumbers, but still, LOL). Copy-pasting this into my conversation-making file, LOL

  2. I like! Good and curiousity stimulating questions and I agree with Ana – applicable and useful in many fields. Thank you!

  3. # 11 reminds me of: “If you were a tree, which one would you be ..?”

    (At this point, the agent’s ready to choose a weeping willow).

    So how about: “Hi! Great to meet you! I was attracted to your agency because … (fewer than 10 words – and you’d better have heard of the agency and its wishes). May I tell you about my book?”

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