Do You Need to Schmooze an Editor or Agent?

I’ve attended over 7 writers conferences since walking the road of an author. One thing I’ve come to observe at these conferences is they way we interact with one another.

Editors and agents are seen as the gate keepers to our dreams. They are the ones who will accept our book and validate our work.

Janalyn Voigt and I at Northwest Christian Wrtiers Renewal

This is sort of true and sort of not. Editors and agents will let you know if your work is ready. They’ll let you know what you need to work on. They do not hold your dreams. You do.

Having our work published will not validate us. Only Jesus can do this. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your worth is measured by a contract and sales figures.

I’ve seen some writers completely crushed when an editor/agent declined on their pitch. I’ve been one of them. Jesus gently reminded me that He is my agent. And He’s yours if you’re willing to give your writing over to Him.

I don’t mean He will do everything. We still have to hone our craft, build our platform, and continue learning.

At conferences, I’ve seen editors and agents hunted down by well-meaning enthusiastic authors. They couldn’t get an appointment with the agent/editor they wanted, so they stalk them at meal times, breaks, in line at the bathroom….

I’ve had some wonderful chats with editors/agents at meals and in the hallways. But I’ve also seen a weary trapped look in their gaze.

We should never become so focused on what other people can do for us and our careers that we forget they are people and children of God first and foremost.

Take the time to ask them how they’re enjoying the conference. Chat them up like you would meeting someone at a neighborhood barbecue. Take the time to get to know them a little. They’ll eventually turn the conversation towards writing. After all, they’re there to discover great writers.

Even if they turn your project down, they’ll remember a friendly person. Later, circumstances may be different and your project will be the one. You can never go wrong investing in people and relationships.

You should spend some time schmoozing at conferences. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If we look at every person and situation with the attitude of how we can help them, instead of how they can help us, we’ll get much further.

Have you ever made new friends at a conference? How have you helped someone else and had it benefit you unexpectedly?

14 Replies to “Do You Need to Schmooze an Editor or Agent?”

  1. I will be attending my first conference in September (ACFW) and I’m so excited to finally meet other writers face to face! I’m just thrilled to be going and I won’t be formally pitching my WIP, so I have very few expectations, other than to learn and connect with people in the publishing world. Thank you for this perspective and reminder!

  2. I haven’t been to a conference yet. I am a new and emerging blogger/writer. It’s nice to find your blog!

  3. There’s schmoozing, and then there’s being friendly. I love listening to people, and I’m looking forward to the ACFW conference in September so I can do a lot of listening.

    How else do writers get their ideas?

    Thanks for the post, Melissa!

  4. Melissa, I love the heart of your blog post. If we all remember that authors, editors, and agents got into the Christian publishing business to please God and fulfill a call on our lives, we can’t go wrong. When I get impatient I have to remember that God’s timing isn’t always my timing.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets impatient. God continually reminds me to trust Him. 🙂 Thanks for the reblog, I didn’t know you had a blog set up. 🙂

  5. “If we look at every person and situation with the attitude of how we can help them, instead of how they can help us, we’ll get much further.”

    Good advice for life, in general!

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I agree with Joe, an attitude of helping others, versus wanting them to help us, is great advice. When interacting with agents or editors, I try to remind myself to ask about them, with genuine interest. To look at them as a person who might need prayer, an encouraging word, or simply someone to talk to who isn’t trying to get something from them. I’ve made wonderful friends this way. After all, we’re all people trying to make it in a sin-sick world.

  7. Yes, I’ve made new friends at a conference. You. :o) I love that picture of us. It was such a nice moment.

    I love saying the word, schmooze, but when I was an insurance agent with an independent agency I hated the concept. Companies would schmooze us so we’d send them business. On one level that kind of pandering felt good, but it sickened me because we all knew it wasn’t sincere.

    I would rather miss out on a benefit than act in a way that dishonored both me and my intended schmoozy. (That’s a word, right?)

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