Just so we’re totally clear,
discussion in this column will center on the Sacred Laws of Fiction
Etiquette that govern the world of fiction publishin’ and your proper
response to those Laws.
Well, good mornin’
class, er—that is, faithful readers. Ah see you have been mindful
of your need to better yourselves by joining your
own Ms. Flanders for further admonishment in the Sacred Laws of Fiction
Etiquette. I commend your good sense.
Pardon me just one tiny
moment while Ah indulge in another wee sip of my mint jul—sweet tea.
Now that is most refreshin’. There’s nothin’
more bracin’ early in the mornin’ than the Confed—Southern national
drink properly infused with mint—and of course,
just a hint of lemon.
Isn’t it just hotter’n
a pistol in here, honey lamb? Ah fear Ah am all
aglow. Pardon me just one more time…
Now, where were we,
dearie? Oh, yes. Now that Ah am properly hydrated,
Ah am prepared to entertain this month’s question
from one of our faithful readers.
just starting out in my career as a best-selling author. I plan to
attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference next month.
This is the first conference I have ever attended, and naturally I want
to make the very best use of my time. What is the proper etiquette for
approaching editors and agents at a conference in order to get that
first contract of many.
Oh, honey, you most
certainly are. First of all, please do not ever
again fall into the fatal error of addressin’ moi
with such familiarity or I shall have to give your knuckles a smart rap
with my ruler. It is Ms. Flanders to you,
and don’t you forget it. Now don’t stand there with your mouth hangin’
open, chil’. You’ll catch flies. Just take your seat and mind your
manners. Bless your heart…
The proper etiquette
for appoachin’ editors and agents is on your knees.
Never ever forget that you are merely the hapless
supplicant and they are the veritable gods of the
publishin’ world. If you do not win their favor, you can kiss any hope
of a publishin’contract good-bye as it flits by your pointy little
Y’all must keep several
things firmly in mind at all times. Most important, this event is for
the benefit of those who so graciously give of
their time to provide the likes of you with the
information you need in order to progress from the basic
workshops and continuing classes to the intermediate
levels, and if you pay careful attention, perhaps
eventually to upper level courses. Do not even think
about applyin’ for the professional track. That is
reserved for the best-sellin’ authors like John Grisham or Nicholas
Sparks, two mighty fine Southern gents who also happen to be easy on
the eyes. Ahem. It’s where they network and
exchange their secrets of success. Your odds of
reachin’ that exalted rank are worse than a snowball’s . . . um, well,
your dear Ms. Flanders is a Christian woman, so let’s just say it’s highly
Should you have the temerity to
sit at the table of an editor, agent, or best-sellin’ author durin’ the
meals, do not under any circumstances hog the
conversation by runnin’ your mouth on and on about your work in
progress. Believe me, darlin’, nobody
could care less. Your part is
worshipfully soak up the gems of wisdom that fall
from your betters’ lips. And rest assured that you cannot gush
your appreciation enough. Havin’ a passel of aspirin’ writers fawnin’
over you is one of the joys of bein’ on staff at a
conference and makes the trouble these important folk go to worthwhile.
More points for y’all to ponder:
When you pitch your project,
keep your presentation as succinct as humanly
possible. Do not blather. And if you encounter a
lack of interest, do slink quietly away. There is nothin’
to be gained by annoyin’ the folk who hold the
seats of power.
The chairs at the head of the
tables are reserved for your betters. Fight the
temptation to bribe folk or pull their chairs out from under them so
you can sit by that highly favored editor you’re hopin’ to impress.
Such actions will bring you to ruin. Remember our
dear Lord’s admonishment about takin’ the lowest
seat in hopes you’ll be called up higher. Not that that’s likely to
happen in your case. Bless your heart.
And speakin’ of seats…the
bathroom stall is inviolate. If you don’t know what that means,
darlin’, why in the world are you goin’ to a
writer’s conference in the first place? You’d better be studyin’
your dictionary instead.
Last, but not least,
flirtin’ with that adorable editor or agent is a conflict of
interest and will result in nothin’ but trouble with
a capital T. Keep your eyes and your hands to yourself,
We could discuss so much more
but, alas, our column has reached its end. I trust
you’ve gotten the drift. Just keep to your place, darlin’, and you’ll
come away from the conference with a whole new appreciation
for what a writin’ career is all about.
Next month we’ll consider why
many Christian publishers decline to publish stories about real
people doin’ real things. Now there’s a can of worms
in need of serious admonishment.
Why are Christian publishers so resistant to publishing edgy stories
that portray real people in the real world?
If your publisher insists on putting the purple monstrosity cover on
your book, what should you do?
do lightweight romance novels dominate the Christian market?