|Puma courtesy fPat on Flickr|
Having a literary agent would be sweet. They boil my manuscript down to its two sentence essence, target the right editor at the right publisher, and sell my book. Voila! Way better than my process: spend a million hours (approximately) researching publishers, try to write something cute about the editor in the query letter, remember I don't actually know anything about the editor, cry.
My $10 writing budget didn’t allow for a conference to meet editors in person so I could at least say "we met once." Nor did it allow for driving into the city, hanging out in swanky wine bars, and buying anyone a drink who said the word "editor." Learning 1: I needed to find information without turning into the creep at the bar.
As a person highly susceptible to analysis paralysis, researching editors was right in my wheelhouse. My inner analyst insisted I must read every children's book ever written, create the mother of all spreadsheets, and develop a correlation to match my manuscript to the right editor. I also wanted this all done in a few minutes so I could send my query letter. Learning 2: Matchmaking with the right editor required patience.
Tips for Stalking Editors in a Patient and Non-Creepy Way:
1. Follow the publisher and any of the editors in your short list on Twitter. There is a good chance you will hear about mistakes other newbie writers have made which you will avoid.
2. Many publishers have Facebook pages which are usually more "alive" than the publisher's website. You get to know the nuances of their mission. You will see what events the publisher attends and maybe even a picture of the person who could be reading your ms!
3. Editor blogs are the jackpot. There is no better way to learn about the editor than from their own words. Some publishers list blogs on their sites. If not, try a search for "insert-editor's-name blog" to see if you can discover one.
4. Interviews with the editor are an excellent learning tool. How did they get into the business? What are they looking for in a manuscript really? Search "Interview with Insert-Name."
5. To find an editor's credits, try searching "edited by Insert-Name" to look for a book review or author website which shares the editor for a book you have read from the publisher's catalog (because of course you have been reading from the catalog).
6. Wait, watch, listen. You are looking for an editor who is a good fit. Are they funny? Serious? Too much wine? Not enough wine? Is it clear how they support their authors?
7. Act on what you learn. Loved a recent book they edited? Enjoyed an insight from their blog? It is okay to include a brief mention in your query to let them know you did your due diligence.
8. Don't actually act on what you learn. If an editor tweets about chocolate, you should not send chocolate. Just send your query. Save the chocolate for your wait after you send your query.
Think my tips stunk? You still can't find out anything about an editor? Well, you may just have to take a chance and send your manuscript. Or go to a conference first. Or wait outside their office with chocolate and wine. You weirdo stalker.
Thanks, Lauri, for stopping by Clemson Road! Wanna hear more from Lauri? Visit her or post a comment with some questions for her and we'll see if we can get her back!