Last year I spent a bunch of moolah and time schmoozing across Australia, and I ended up with personal contact (handshakes, names, cards) with staff from four of Australia’s six big publishers.
I now have enough data to tell you what those contacts mean to me so far:
Drastically longer response time.
I am personally convinced that the only – ONLY – time personal contact helps you is if your book is one of the .05% (that’s not an exaggerated joke, sorry) of books that gets to the final stage of the maybe-getting-published ladder – the acquisitions meeting. At which stage, you contact will most likely say, “Oh yeah, I met Louise Curtis. She wore a simply giant dress to some conference somewhere. Seemed mostly sane.”
The good news is that that comment may make the difference between accepting your book and accepting another book on the table at the same meeting (that was written by someone who doesn’t have contacts).
In the meantime – particularly if you’d like a chance at a response time shorter than six months (again, I’m not joking, sorry – six months is standard across all publishers, in my experience), the person you REALLY REALLY want. . . is the assistant.
For my Writer’s Digest webinar, I pledged to answer all the questions sent in by students. This one got me fired up enough to transfer the exchange to the blog:
What can we do to ensure that an actual agent sees my query? I’ve received rejection letters directly from assistants, therefore I know that the agent hasn’t seen my query or sample work. Perhaps the agent would have liked it, but if he or she wasn’t able to see it, then both the agent and I miss out on what could have been a wonderful opportunity.
This writer seems to have what I would call Assistant Attitude. It’s a belief that assistants aren’t really important and that only the big names at an agency can make or break a writer’s chances at representation. A lot of (beginning) writers think very poorly of assistants and are shocked — shocked! — to learn that these are the people reading their queries.
I invite everyone currently suffering from a case of Assistant Attitude to consider, perhaps, the complete opposite viewpoint.
Read the rest here. Always remember – the hard part is writing a brilliant book, so focus on that.
Meanwhile, a kitty (who just saw a bird dare to land on OUR windowsill):