Friday, November 09, 2007


I am back! I am exhausted. I have seen more publishing professionalism in one week than I will probably see in an entire lifetime. We had over four appointments each day, and when you are sitting there pitching your livelihood to someone younger than you and better dressed with the power to shoot you down, that can get intense. Again, and again, and again.

If I divide the appointments of the trip into categories, here is how I felt after each one:
AGENTS: nobody seemed really that interested in my project. They all kind of nodded and said, "mmmhmmm," before moving on to the next person in our group. This is a problem because agents are the gatekeepers. I need one to even really begin to hope I will see my book proposal slide across an editor's desk. Everyone uses the word "platform" and talks about how I have to build one.

EDITORS: I saw two of these, and both seemed really interested. Even said the words, "that sounds like a great idea. Get an agent." Promising, yes! Still work to be done? Enormous amounts.

MAGAZINE FOLKS: We went to some big smoking guns. New York Times Magazine. Harpers. New Yorker. I didn't expect any sparks to fly in these places, and none did. We also went to some more manageable guns, where my pitches seemed to generate a wee bit of interest. This week, I am frantically revising my written proposals to their suggestions. We'll see! I feel good inside about two publications and feel confident that others will at least offer me solid advice.

I think I want to make this trip a sort of annual thing. A few writers will still be around Pittsburgh next year, and we have decided that as a group, if we contact these folks and say we are writers coming to town to discuss ideas, they will let us buy them sandwiches and listen to us for a second.

I also learned that new writers shouldn't really be that bothered by the big editors/agents in an organization. The person to look out for is the 26 year old with the word "assistant" somewhere in her job title. This lady/dude is the up and coming star, looking for new talent, wanting to show the boss a hot new writer. These are the people I am following up with and these are the people I vow to woo with my sharp ideas and professionalism.


Valtastic said...

If I see Mr/Mrs. Lamb during the holidays I'll see if his agent is look for someone new and cool! I know he helped my sister get a job with Men's Health once.

east side girl said...

Sounds like you had a good trip. You're absolutely right--for a new writer, seek out the "up and coming" young agent who's driven and into finding new talent. Also, remember that it's really important to find someone who's excited about YOU, and who sees beyond the projects you're working on now in order to help you build a future.