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5 professional tips for authors meeting publishers

5 professional tips for authors meeting publishers

It’s not all that often that would-be authors get to meet publishers to pitch their work, but it happens.

Mostly, literary agents will take charge of sending your work out to publishers. Assuming there’s interest in your work, publishers will come back with offers and then, when you do meet publishers face-to-face, they are pitching to you much more than you to them.

But that’s not the only way it can happen. Recently, a client of ours was in New York for three meetings with major New York based publishers. He had a UK deal from a wonderful London-based publisher and one in Germany. In the US, though, publishers wanted to meet him before committing to an offer.

They wanted that meeting not because of any real reservations they had about the manuscript. If they hadn’t liked the material, they wouldn’t have asked for the meeting. They just wanted to see the author himself. See if he could present himself well to the media. See if his vision for the book was the same as theirs. See also if they liked him. After all, your working relationship with a publisher will certainly last a year and perhaps considerably more, so you might as well like the person you’re to be working with.

So if something like this happens to you, at any point in the process, it’s good to be prepared. To that end, some rules!

1) Be Nice

The first commandment of publishing. The book deal you’re involved in is unlikely to involve vast sums of money, for you or your agent or your publisher — so be nice. That can make all the difference.

2) Be Professional

Know the things you ought to know, and have that information ready to hand. What’s the word count of your manuscript? If it isn’t yet complete, when do you plan to deliver it? Who are other major authors in your genre? Or some comp-titles, whether soon to be released or recently burning up the bestseller lists?
Let them know who you are, too. Be prepared to talk about your social media following, that piece you wrote for that blog, or anything else that can help them get to know the author behind the pen.

3) Look Sharp

Contrary to popular belief, publishers aren’t just chasing books by the young and the beautiful. But that doesn’t mean you can’t comb your hair, dress decently, take that little extra smidge of care — show them that the meeting matters to you, not that it was something for which you barely deigned to roll out of bed.

4) Ask Questions

It’s fine to ask questions of your potential publisher. When would they schedule release? What format would they release it in? And at what price? When does the e-book come out, and at what price? How would they think about marketing it? What kind of cover design do they have in mind? (They won’t have a cover design planned, but they’ll may be able to tell you – or ideally show you – the approximate kind of cover they’ll be considering.) What success have they had with similar books in this area? It’s fine to ask about numbers. How many hardbacks, how many paperbacks, how many ebooks? You learn a lot from these questions, and you make it clear that you are a professional and will work professionally with your team.

5) Listen to Your Literary Agent

Your agent will already know these publishers and quite likely the exact people sitting round the table from you. If your agent steers you in or away from a particular direction, then take that guidance. That’s true anyway, but it’s extra true if you’re in a geographical market not your own: a US author pitching to a London publisher, a UK author pitching to a New York publisher. In the first instance, you will almost certainly have a UK literary agent sitting beside you, a US agent next to you in the second case. Those people are there to help you. Accept their help with gratitude.

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And remember, you can go into those meetings with good heart. You’ve been invited because someone loves your manuscript and just needs a little help to make it all the way to a formal offer. You haven’t quite closed the deal yet, but you’re inches away.

Now go and close it. Good luck.

More On Getting Published

Link to: How to Get Your Book Published

Getting Published

All you need to know