Mixing and Mingling: The Door to Publication?

Mixing and mingling with industry professionals is an opportunity that you should NEVER let slip by. Here are some tips from my own experience to help you make the most of your conference:

1. Agents and editors are people too. Just like you, they have an agenda as well as their anxieties when attending conference. As an agent or editor walks into the party, she might be thinking: will I find that writer who will get me promoted, or will I have to get a restraining order from the lady in purple? A slight exaggeration that I hope illustrates the point.

2. Introduce yourself if you do, and especially if you don't have an appointment with that person. Be a familiar face when you walk into your appointment; you'd be surprised how much more comfortable you feel and how much she pays attention. Or, seize the opportunity to chat up your first-choice agent who was booked by the time you signed up for your appointment.

3. Small talk doesn't have to be small. When I attended my very first writer's conference in 2001, Red Dress Ink Senior Editor Margaret Marbury sat next to me during the keynote lunch. Rather than pester her with my pitch or worse, ignore her, I said hi and then complimented her on her dress. We started talking about life in New York versus L.A. and then, she told about the new line she was starting called Red Dress Ink. From that chance meeting, I didn't get a six figure offer for my book; rather, I got a valuable education on the editorial process (especially submission faux pas that irritated editors the most), what makes a book marketable, the books she had edited, etc.

4. Don't drink and drive. Keeping the previous point in mind, don't fuel up on liquid courage even if you are at a wine and cheese party. Social mixers are ultimately professional events. The agent holding a glass of wine while laughing at your witty repartee still has an agenda at the conference: to size up potential authors and meet up with her current authors. You have an agenda too and don't screw it up!

5. Have an entry and an exit plan. I met my editor during the Q&A session of the Avon Spotlight during the Romance Writers of America conference in New York. After the session, I went up to her and introduced myself. She was surrounded by authors who wanted the guidelines she was passing out, so I kept it short by asking if she would like to see the synopsis and the first three chapters of my book I had referenced in my question. She said yes and I thanked and then wished her a good conference. Do you know that when I asked her about that day eight months later, she remembered? What she appreciated was that I respected her time and yet took the time to introduce myself and my book. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

6. Do not channel your inner used-car salesman. Present yourself as a confident and professional author that agent or editor would enjoy working with. If you find the conversation dwindling or there are six people lining up behind you, end the conversation with a thank you or "it was great meeting you, may I have your card so that I may send you the synopsis and first three chapters of my [insert tagline here]." Trust me, she will remember you.

7. Don't let the encounter end at the party. If you have a book ready to be sent out, get that letter, synopsis and first three chapters in the mail. An editor once revealed to me that they are never inundated with conference submissions immediately after a writer's conference. That was why my editor called my home three weeks after I sent her a partial submission to request the full. She bought that book two months later.

However, if you don't have a book ready, send a short note reminding the agent or editor of your meeting. Thank her for her time and that you look forward to sending your book after it's done.

Mary Castillo is the author of "Hot Tamara," a romantic comedy that was was excerpted as a Red Hot Read in Cosmopolitan Magazine and deemed "what is sexy right now" by the New York Daily News. Castillo is also a featured author in the anthology, Friday Night Chicas. She was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times Community News and her articles have appeared in Romance Writers Report as well as the University of Redlands' alumni magazine, Och Tamale. 2006.

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

Time to Write

SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?Many people have entertained... Read More

What Is The Single Worst Mistake Most People Make When Writing Classified Ads?

All sales begin with some form of advertising whether it's... Read More

Should You Hire a Ghostwriter?

Have you heard the term 'ghostwriter' and wondered what they... Read More

Writing Help

Whether you are working for a small business, large corporation,... Read More

Local Knowledge: Background and Historical Setting in Novels

You're writing a story set in your local city, but... Read More

Time-Saving Skills to Get More from Your Writing

As you set out to create your first niche non-fiction... Read More

Top Seven Ways to Select a Book Topic That Sells

Authors need to write their book according to their target... Read More

Screenwriting ? The Value of Structure

Structure in the form of frameworks, work processes and goals... Read More

Write A Better Newsletter!

You've decided to write your very own Newsletter to promote... Read More

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Generate Story Ideas

There are many ways you can generate ideas you can... Read More

How Are You Plotting?

Creative Writing Tips ?Writing is a creative process and how... Read More

Is The Theme Running Throughout The Story?

Creative Writing Tips ?It's no use coming up with a... Read More

How to Have an Effective Writing Group

The works you've written are numerous, ranging from short stories... Read More

Plagiarism Through The Eyes Of College Students

Plagiarism has been condemned lately by all types of experts,... Read More

The Unwritten World Of The Reality Of Letterwriting

You may wonder why I have chosen this title of... Read More

8 Tell-Tale Signs That Forecast Writing Success!

'Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented... Read More

The Value of Adding Images to Technical Documentation

It's cliché, but true-a picture does paint a thousand words.... Read More

About Writing

Here's everything I know about improving your writing, publishing it... Read More

Seven Suggestions To Develop a Superb Writing Style

Every writer eventually develops her own unique style of writing.... Read More

Blank Mind, Blank Screen: Need Ideas!

Q. I'm staring at a blank screen with an equally... Read More

How I Became a Syndicated Columnist -- And You Can Too!

Real Estate has "Location, location, location," and writing has "Clips,... Read More

Writing Query Letters that Count -- Close the Deal with Your First Letter!

Your query letter can be a deal maker or a... Read More

Freelance or Staff

There is no doubt that a staff writer enjoys advantages... Read More

What You May Not Learn In College... (Part Two)

If you become a writer for any publication, private business,... Read More

The Writing Life

In the 7th grade I wanted to be an architect... Read More

Linguaphone Language Learning Solutions

Language Training - A key to Global CommunicationLanguage Training is... Read More

10 Things that Keep You from Writing Your Book? and What You Can do About It

9 out of 10 professionals and small business owners have... Read More

Five Tips to Find More Time for Your Writing Life

When I asked new ezine subscribers, "What is your Number... Read More

Screenwriting and Screenwriters ? beyond Syd Field

Without denigrating the work and contribution of Syd Field to... Read More

Have You Plotted Your Story Before Writing It?

Creative Writing Tips ?The writer, who doesn't have the time... Read More

Write SMART: How to Create Terrific Writing Goals - And Achieve Them!

Open up your favorite calendar and circle today's date.Why? Because... Read More

Creating Great Business Correspondence

Obtaining the skills for writing good business correpondence is important;... Read More

Creative Writing Tips - Does The Name You Chose Suit Your Character?

How do you choose a name? Do you put down... Read More