Meeting editors and publishers

Recently, I booked myself in for three editor/publisher appointments. One was a critique with an editor from HarperCollins Children’s Books in New York through the 20 pages in 20 minutes masterclass at the Brisbane Writers Festival, while the other two appointments were through the CYA Conference.

Before this, I had heaps of questions that I couldn’t find answers to. What kind of questions were they going to ask? Should I bring other examples with me? So, I thought I could tell you about my experiences in hope that it helps you along the way.

Every meeting will be different, so prepare as if you are going to run your fifteen minute appointment. Know how you would pitch your story. Consider how you would pitch yourself and your background. Think of the relationship that ties you to your story, like how did you discovered the idea or how your day job lends authority to the story.

You might want to write notes down and practise talking them through. Or maybe you want to go for a walk with your writing buddy and talk out your pitch. Pitching your story to a publisher isn’t that much different to how you would have first described the project to your writing buddy. If you’re like me, then you’re better just knowing your work inside out so you can ad-lib. I think it’s more honest and personable, which is what you want to aim for.

As for written preparation, I was guided by my wonderful friend (and CYA co-ordinator) Tina Marie Clark who suggested to bring in a page of short pitches for other w-i-p’s. I prepared what ended up being a two-page document with my photo and contact details, a bulleted list of my projects and their blurbs (approx 150w each) in case they sparked any interest.

This was a great idea and something I will continue to do. If a publisher is interested in your story, then they’ll definitely be interested in knowing you’re working on others. Conversely, if the publisher likes your writing but not your w-i-p, they have the opportunity to see if you’re working on something that catches their attention. Obviously, don’t shove this in their face. Ask them if they’re interested and they’ll tell you.

I could go on forever, but I’ll finish with this. Don’t go into it thinking, ‘Will they sign me up on the spot because I am so damn fabulous?’. It’s about relationship building and gaining direction. If you come out of your meeting with a little more insight than before, then you’ve won.


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