Monday, January 16, 2012

Meeting an Agent at a Conference

This question came through on a blog post I did about preparing a nonfiction manuscript:

I have a meeting with a publisher at a conference at the end of the month. I will be presenting them several chapters and a proposal. Do you have any recommendations on how I should present it to them (bound, in a folder, loose, etc.)?

Please do NOT present a written proposal. I definitely recommend having your material with you, especially electronically, on the off chance an agent does want to see it while she's traveling, but I do not recommend showing up at a conference, proposal in hand, thinking you're simply going to hand it over to an agent. A pitch appointment is not an opportunity to hand-deliver your material. A pitch appointment is about verbally pitching your book and getting to know the agent and a little more about the industry. It's also the agent's chance to get to know you and to see if you're the kind of person she would like to work with. Honestly, I've had pitch appointments in which I've passed on material only because I found the author so abrasive I knew it wasn't someone I wanted to work with.

When you do prepare your proposal, never bind it. A folder is fine, but typically, if the agent is still accepting paper submissions, it's loose.