Monday, May 4, 2015

Are You Researching Your Editors And Agents?

All editors and agents are not alike. Sure, what they do is essentially the same thing, but there are vast differences between the approaches each take, as well as what they like and don't like in terms of a manuscript. Knowing those differences can be the single factor that makes or breaks that pitch session at an upcoming conference.

During the weeks (but hopefully you have been doing this longer) coming up to a conference where you know you will be pitching, you should be spending a great deal of time researching and reading. You want to take the time to learn all you can about those editors and agents. Your goal is to find patterns in their thinking. This is all done through not just what they state they acquire, but also the books you hear them talk about on social media and in other things they may write. You will also see this in the types of books they acquire.

The goal is to look for patterns.

Does the editor or agent tend to acquire stories where the motivations of the characters are really filled with drama packed back stories? Or, do they like stories where the entire focus is on just the hero and heroine struggling with personal issues. If it is a romantic suspense, do they lean toward the political stories or the dark and grim underbelly of the world stories.

You will take a look at the level of depth the authors have taken with character development or plot development. This can be seen in the balance between narration and dialogue. How much do we really know about the characters? Is the world building creating a fully 3-D world, or is this just "Small town, USA"?

Knowing this will tell you if your story is even going to work with that editor or agent. Just saying you have a pitch appointment is not enough. It has to be one where you at least have a chance getting past the door,

I will also add that this is going to also apply to those situations where the editor or agent is acquiring for the publishing house or the agency. Let's say you are pitching at RWA Nationals and meeting with Flo Nichol. Your story might not fit with what Flo represents, but it might fit better with someone like Linda Fildew, or Pippa Roscoe. When you pitch, it is up to you to demonstrate to Flo that your story will fit with all of those people. Your job is to make it very clear that your story fits.

I say this every year and I will say it again. I don't care if there are editors and agents there to listen to your pitches. If the person is not a right fit, you will not see a contract. Sure, you may get a token "send me something" but don't expect the contract. Your story didn't match before the pitch and it will not match after the pitch.

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