Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Follow Through After A Request

For some of you lucky writers out there, later this week, you will have a chance to meet with an editor or an agent at the RWA Conference. Congratulations! Considering there are so few appointments, you must have been living under a lucky start. Now, don't blow it.

I am always amazed at the number of writers who, after getting that coveted pitch appointment, never follow through with sending in the submission. You have begged for the chance to get your writing in front of these people and then you just don't send it. Oh, I have heard a ton of reasons, and frankly all of the reasons come back to one thing. You were simply not ready to be pitching and, unfortunately, you took that slot away from someone who was ready.

So, what have I heard? Let me respond to each...

My story wasn't finished. Then why in the heck did you sign up? The honest truth is that almost all of the editors and agents will request material. Many will do so because they don't want to tell you no to your face. Others really aren't sure what they are looking for and believe they will see it when they see it. Your story needs to be ready to go to print, right at that moment you pitch.

I had a chance to learn about the editor/agent and this person wasn't right for me. Then you did not do your research. These appointments were available months ago. You should have been signing up with someone you knew and someone you wanted to work with. If, however, you were like so many others out there just signing up for any opening, you are not ready for this business. This is the basics of economics. It is called market research. You had better know if this is the person you wanted to work with.

I wanted to send it to my critique group first. Again, why wasn't your story finished? I would also add that critique groups, although there are a lot of great things about them, these people can honestly destroy most manuscripts. This is often a case of the blind leading the blind. Eventually, the story you wrote becomes something that the others wrote.

I didn't feel I was ready. Again, why were you pitching. If a friend told you to pitch and you weren't ready, then this person is not a friend. They are setting you up for failure. I don't care if there was an appointment available, you have to be mentally ready to make this jump.

And then we have these people that believe sending in the project ANY time after the pitch is fine. Look, that story needs to be in the mail or sent in the email within 2 weeks of the conference. Sure, those people will likely take a break and maybe sneak in a vacation, but your story, will still be in their memory.

If it takes you months to get back to an editor or an agent, after you have received a request, you are clearly demonstrating you cannot meet deadlines. What will you do when the contract says your story is due August 31 and you can't get the story done? What about the 14 days to get revisions done?

Many of you get frustrated when editors and agents don't get back to you on projects. If you aren't following through with a request, then you have no business complaining. You are doing the same thing.

And, if you are someone who is in any of the situations I mentioned, then drop that appointment immediately when you get to San Diego. Let those who are ready pitch. You can always try in 2017.

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