There have been times when my eyes have been truly opened. My trip to World Fantasy Convention 2011 was one of those times.
I know I have spoken often about the importance of meeting people and networking, but that was reinforced for me over the past few days. For those of you who don’t know what WFC is, let me give you a bit of an idea. It is a professional writer’s convention that attracts writers, publishers, editors, artists and others from around the world.
Note, I said professional convention. This is not a convention for costumes but one for spending time with others passionate about genre fiction.
It was also a first for me in many ways. It was the first time I’ve met many of my online friends, the first time I’ve been looking to publicize my podcast, “Get Published” in the community and it was the first time I’ve been able to meet and introduce my writing partner, JR Murdock, to some of the people I know.
I did NOT come to the convention with the intention of trying to sell any books. Just to make the contacts that might led to bigger and better things.
That might sound like a mistake to you, but let me tell you about an important lesson I learned while at the convention.
It goes something like this: publishers go to these conventions expecting people to pitch to them. They might even go to the convention hoping to find a book to buy. However, they are people and need to be treated as such.
That means, the first words out of your mouth when you meet a publisher (or an agent or an editor) shouldn’t be “I’ve got this book that you need to see”.
Get to know the person first. Understand what, if anything, they are looking for. They will most likely ask you what you are doing or have done at some point. If they don’t, that’s okay. If they have gotten to know you, chances are they will remember you if and when you do eventually pitch them.
I have examples of this in action. The first happened at a room party. I was talking to a very nice lady about various things. The room was loud, but we were having a great conversation. I learned that she was a writer as we talked about our various projects.
I told her about Galaxybillies.
This is where things really got interesting.
She said I should submit it to her publisher.
It turns out that, not only is she a writer, she is also an editor for the press. I wasn’t trying to pitch Galaxybillies but I generated enough interest that she wants to see it. Will it sell? I honestly don’t know, but my foot is in the door.
The other example was with one publisher I know quite well. He invited a friend of mine to a one-on-one discussion that lasted over an hour. He invited my friend because my friend had spent all his time trying to get to know people, not harass them. My friend was the only person at the convention of over 1000 people to get such an invitation.
Much, much more happened during the convention but suffice it to say, I’ve now had to change my plans for November. I was going to do NaNoWriMo, but now I have to polish a manuscript for submission.
Oh yeah, and JR Murdock and I have a book to finish because there was interest in it.
But that’s a story for another time.