Manners are a very important part of approaching editors and agents at writer’s conferences. This is something you should have been taught as children, but alas, not all people have proper manners. Even those of us that do, need refresher courses at times, especially in new situations where we don’t know what’s expected. There is a standing joke of a writing following an agent or editor into the restroom and pitching while they are captive audiences. The sad part is this really does happen at times. This is not the way to positively influence an editor or agent.
Here are a few pointers on manners at writer’s conferences:
Be prompt: Arrive for all appointments a few minutes early. Who knows? If the person before you doesn’t need the whole time and you’re already there, you could get extra time. If you can’t make an appointment, let the appointment director know so the editor or agent doesn’t waste time waiting for a no show.
Don’t monopolize: At some conferences, you will have the opportunity to sit and eat with editors and agents. If this is the case, don’t monopolize the conversation. Most agents and editors will give each person at the table a chance to talk. Wait for that opportunity or you will appear rude.
Elevator pitches: If you find yourself on an elevator or alone with an agent or editor, be courteous. Introduce yourself, and ask if this is a convenient time to make a pitch.
Appointment Manners: The best way to make an impression is to be kind and truthful. First ask the agent or editor how his day has gone? Has she found any likely prospects. Treating them like human beings will help you gain respect. Next, if you’re nervous or if this is your first pitch, say so. Most agents and editors will help you through your nervousness if you’re honest with them.
Be prepared: When it’s time for your appointment, know what you’re going to say. Have one sheets or sample pages ready to give the agent or editor. Have yourself and your materials ready.
Showing professionalism by displaying manners may just be the edge you need to land an editor or agent.