Hello from Lisa Mondello. Fairly soon 2000 authors will be heading to NYC to attend the Romance Writer's Conference. One of the most important aspect of the conference for those attendees who have a completed manuscript is the editor/agent appointments. Editor/agent appointments give an author 8 minutes of one-on-one time in front of an agent or editor to pitch their story in the hopes of having that editor or agent request it for a read.
Sounds simple. But if you've ever sat in a room full of nervous authors waiting for their turn, you'll soon learn it's anything but simple. For some, a lot rides on that initial meeting. It's not enough to just send in a query or proposal to the slush pile. Being able to write on that envelope that the material is "requested" hopefully gives that author the chance at a quicker read. Not always. But sometimes. Since it can sometimes take an editor a year or more to read through a manuscript, every little bit of time shaved off that wait is important.
What does an editor/agent appointment do?
*Gives you the opportunity to meet face to face with a professional in the industry that you may one day be working with.
*Gives you a chance to see the reaction from an editor or agent when you pitch your story. This isn't always a big deal since the ultimate test is the manuscript itself. But you can tell if the story idea has some weight by their reaction.
*Gives you a chance to see if you have a rapport with the editor or agent. This is especially true for working with an agent you may be working with down the road. You want to be able to have a good rapport in order to work together on your career.
*Gives you the opportunity to ask questions of the editor/agent about what they're looking for and what they are not interested in. This is always good for future manuscripts.
What an editor/agent appointment does NOT do?
*It does not guarantee a sale. Only the merits of the manuscript, the market conditions and the number of slots the publisher has to fill can dictate that. And even then it sometimes feels like you're climbing a slippery slope.
Things to consider...
If you are unpublished in romantic fiction, make sure you have a full manuscript finished, polished and ready to send out when you get that request. You want to strike while the iron is hot!
Also, if you're on the fence about whether to take an appointment or not. Do it! You never know what will come out of an appointment. I know several authors who sold their manuscripts as a result of meeting with an editor. And one author was not going to take the appointment but was talked into it by a friend. I personally received my first Avalon Books contract offer DURING an editor appointment. The editor already had the manuscript on her desk, but since it had only been there for 2 months I didn't think there was any reason to meet with her. I was wrong because that editor knew I'd be at that particular conference (I'd told her in the cover letter with the manuscript) and wanted to see my face when she offered me the contract.
Editor and agent appointments are never a waste of time, even if they don't pan out the way you originally intended. You never know where that editor or agent is going to be in 3 or 4 years or how that meeting will impact your career down the line.
Good luck and many blessings, Lisa Mondello