Thursday, September 17, 2015

Follow Through On Those Requests

I love attending conferences and getting the chance to listen to pitches from authors. They are in their environment and amazingly energized from all of the writing talk around them. It is even more exciting when we as agents and editors hear a project that really catches our attention. It might be the plot, the unique characters or even the personality of the author that makes us think we really want to see more.

But then the harsh reality kicks in. The majority of the time, we will never see or hear from these authors ever again. I know that many of you are reading this in complete shock? These authors just got a request to see more of their writing, something they have been working on for years and they don't follow through? But the truth is, many don't What is worse is that these authors may have just ruined their chances later on with that editor or agent for their lack of follow through.

I have had authors never submit, but I have also had authors who pitch to me and then 11 months later, finally submit the project to me. Their cover letters with the project speak as if the story was just pitched the prior weekend. I am sorry to say, but this sends a different message to the editors and agents. This shows us you have a lack of follow through. How can we expect you to act if you have a deadline?

Now, there are several reasons I have heard authors give for why they are not submitting to that editor or agent. Let's look at a few of these:

THE STORY WASN'T READY Then why were you pitching? You should never pitch a story to an editor or agent if you are not ready to submit right there and right then. You need to remember that we are thinking about potential placement of your story at that moment. If you wait, then the odds are that opportunity may be lost, or at least postponed.

I CHANGE MY MIND AFTER I LEARNED ABOUT THE EDITOR OR AGENT - This one always gets to me. There is plenty of information about the editors and agents you are pitching to out there on the Internet. If you are at a conference, the coordinators do a great job of making sure you have all of this useful information. You should not be researching the person after you have pitched. There are probably other authors who would have loved to have gotten that slot. Do your research first!

I NEEDED TO GET IT EDITED - This is just like that first idea. Your story needs to be ready. Yes, it is OK if you are planning on running it through a grammar checker and spell checker one more time. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you are taking it back to your critique group, be prepared for a possible overhaul. You don't have the time to do this. Along the same lines, if you are not happy with how things are going with that story, then again, you should not be pitching it to the editor or agent.

I WAS SCARED This is a game of mental preparedness. When you sign up for a pitch session, it simply means you are fully ready to take the plunge into professional writing. If you are still wondering if this is the right path, then maybe consider holding off until another chance rolls around. There will always be another time.

Look, I get things change along the way. I get that you might look back on your story and reconsider it. I had an author at a recent conference who I asked to go back and look at the story. What I asked her to do is what you need to do. If she changed her mind, send me a quick email and tell me she is reconsidering. In her case, if she decides to do some of those major changes on the story, she has at least had the professional courtesy to let me know.

Remember, this IS a business.

No comments:

Post a Comment