I received a weird phone call at my day job this week. The caller wanted to set up a blood drive. As the receptionist for a blood collection facility in the Chicagoland area I can easily direct calls like this to a marketing person in their area. However, as I gathered more information it became apparent we were not going to be able to help this young lady. She was calling from Canada. Although our blood supply is low at the moment Canada was defintely out of our service area.
As I prepare for the Write To Publish conference next month this call sparked a reminder in the writer’s side of my brain, a matra that writers need to adher to. Read the guidelines before submitting your manuscript. The extra time you take to fill your tote bog or briefcase with the specifics an agent may request before an appointment makes you appear professional. Don’t hand over the whole manuscript if only the summary or first three chapters are needed. Do your homework before setting up an appointment with an agent or publisher at a conference. Coming with a proposal or pitch for something they need gives you a better chance for success.
Don’t try to do something new and dramatic.
An agent friend told me he once had a writer drive to his home to present a manuscript in person. The guidelines on his website clearly stated electronic submissions only. He took the manuscript and wrote his rejection note on the cover and handed it back. Ouch! But the guidelines were clear. In the publishing business submitting out of the box gets rejections. The same applies to conferences. No colored paper or funny font sizes. Double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman is the publishing standard.
Details, details, details
My young caller probably found my company in a google search but may not have gone to the company website. Had she checked out the website she would have not wasted time calling us based on geography. Click on the link for the agent, publisher or magazine to study the details. Your article on time-management may not fit the theme for magazine A’s upcoming edtions but magazine C is clamoring for it. If your Amish fiction has a scifi twist Publisher Q will be open to your pitch. However, Publisher X has all their Amish fiction slots full and you wasted one of your precious appointments because you missed that detail.
What are some other reminders you find important before attending a conference?