This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Like any competitive industry, publishing can, at times, be about who you know and the contacts you make. What I want to know is just how much contact you have to have before you go in' for the kill’ with your pitch?
Take Twitter. I love Twitter. Nothing fills me with more glee then when I have a Twitter conversation with a lovely author who I admire, except of course when I tweet with an agent. A few agents do follow me on Twitter and I follow a fair few more. Occasionally I have conversations with agents about books or what we're enjoying on TV.
For me, Twitter is about building relationships. It takes a lot of self-control, especially after copious amounts of wine, not to DM the agents following me. I think it’s better to make a Twitter friendship, and then hope that if I did sub to them via the slush-pile they might just (if I was lucky) remember the Twitter relationship. I also hope that if I were to meet that agent in person that it might make an introduction easier.
If meeting them in a virtual world is a tricky minefield to negotiate, what happens when you meet an agent or a commissioning editor in real life? And especially at an event when you’ve had wine.
Last year, I was at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Winter Party chatting to a fellow member of the New Writers’ Scheme and they asked me if I was looking for an agent. When I said yes, the woman whispered that there were a few in the room. As much as I wanted to rush over and pitch my book, I wouldn’t let myself. After all, it was a party for them too, I’m sure if they were bombarded by every unrepresented writer in the room they’d be pretty peeved.
About a week after the RNA party, I was lucky enough to attend a dinner for a few bloggers at a publisher's. After dinner the commissioning editor of a women’s fiction list handed us bloggers her business card. There in my hands was a direct email address to someone who had control of their very own list, which she is currently building. A publisher who, may I add, allows you to sub without being published. So have I emailed? No, I haven’t. I didn’t think it was appropriate because I didn’t meet her as an aspiring author, I met her in a I’m-here-to-publicise-your-books capacity.
About a year ago, I was at a Q&A panel where an agent was speaking. After the panel, I spoke to the agent and having had a pleasant conversation, I thought nothing more about it. A couple of days later, that agent emailed me through my website told me to sub her my manuscript when I was ready. Now, regular readers to this column will know that this doesn’t have a happy ending, but it gave me the idea that if agents you were in contact with wanted you to pitch to them, they’d ask.
Am I wrong? Am I taking too much of a back seat and letting opportunities slip through my fingers? Just how well do you have to know the person you’re in contact with before you ‘know’ them?