STATUS: Busy, busy. Closed a deal. Discussed a contract. Analyzed and sent out royalty statements. Getting ready to go out of town.
What song is playing on the ipod right now? TOWN CALLED MALICE—The Jam
Well this song takes me back to High School. I think that dates me. I always have great intentions of writing my blog first thing in the morning. Yep. Doesn’t happen.
It will tomorrow because I have to catch a plane so I’ll need to blog in a hurry.
Since I’m off to the Dreamin’ in Dallas conference, I thought I’d let you guys in on a little secret of how to win friends and influence agents while at a conference.
Seriously, if you plan to attend a conference and you want to make a good impression, especially on me, here’s how to do it.
First off, don’t be shy and do come up and say hello. Introduce yourself. Tell me you read my blog and deliver lots of compliments (joking on that later part). How will you meet me if you don’t come up and say hello? Tell me which one of my authors’ books you’ve read and why you loved it (and I’m serious about this one because that will impress me).
Remember that I’m a human being. Best place to say hello? In the hotel lounge or conference social cocktail parties where I’m feeling relaxed and probably have a glass of wine in hand. This means I’m in social mode.
Worst place to say hello? In the bathroom. Folks, I’m taking care of business. I don’t want to do anything else in that particular place.
Another good place to say hello? Right after I give my workshop. There I am. At your disposal to answer questions. That’s the trick. Ask a good question. Don’t pitch your novel.
Another bad place to say hello? Outside my hotel room. As I’m walking out the hotel front door to catch my plane.
Elevators are sometimes iffy. Depends on how you carry it off.
Here’s the secret. No agent wants to attend a conference and be pitched to—unless we are taking our pitch appointments and then it’s perfectly fine. Instead, what you need to be is your charming self. Be normal. Be interesting. Make conversation. Ask some good questions.
I promise you that if you are all these things, I will eventually ask you about your novel and whether it would be a good fit for me because you have impressed me as a person; therefore your writing might impress me as well. Or, what will happen is that in the normal unfolding of conversation, there will be an appropriate opportunity to mention your novel. It always happens if you are treating me like a human being that you want to meet and not an agent you want to pitch to.
I once was at an opening cocktail party of a conference. It had been a tough flight and I was a little frazzled. I was looking forward to a nice, relaxed opening session. Well, this one attendee basically stalked me through the cocktail party. When she saw I had a free moment, she pounced and immediately started pitching me—without even introducing herself first.
You know me. I’m unfailingly polite but I could feel my eyes glaze in about 30 seconds. I felt ambushed.
In desperation, I told her to send the first 30 pages by snail mail—just so I could end the conversation (even though I could tell the work wasn’t for me).
She said (and I kid you not), “but I must tell you about this part.”
And I have to say that I did channel Miss Snark for a moment and I said, “No, you really don’t. It sounds fine. Why don’t you just send me the first 30 pages.”
She replies, “No, I must.”
And then proceeded to talk at me for the next 10 minutes, explaining her novel in excruciating detail.
I was saved by an attentive attendee who gracefully interrupted her and whisked me away. We had a charming conversation and at the end, I said, “I don’t care what you write, please just send it to me.”
The power of charm and being yourself. That’s how you schmooze me.