Loree Lough

With nearly three million books sold, best-selling author Loree Lough’s titles have earned 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of awards. Reviewers and readers alike call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.” Her 9/11 novel From Ashes to Honor (#1 in First Responders series, Abingdon) hits bookshelves to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her teeny tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her talent for correctly identifying critter tracks. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Loree's Lough Down

Writers’ Conference Preparation

It’s that time of year again, when your toughest decision is which conference to attend. If you’re like me, your biggest fear isn’t finding a pal to share your hotel room or wondering how you’ll find her in the enormous throng of other conference-goers . . . it’s signing up for the dreaded editor and agent appointments.

You do it, of course, because you’ve heard it’s one of the best ways to meet the people who have the power to help you get published. Trouble is, once your appointment time arrives, you’ll be sitting face-to-face with the people who have the power to help you get published!

Having been in that position a time or ten, myself, I know it can be a knee-knockin’ experience, especially if you go unprepared into “the den.” In fact, I’ve survived enough of them that many editors and agents have moved from my “mere acquaintances” to my “writing pals” list. These days, when we get together, it’s to discuss all the nerve-wracking ways this wacky, ever-changing industry has affected us personally and professionally.

At the conclusion of every class I teach and workshop I lead, someone invariably asks how they, too, can live to tell the tales of their successful editor/agent appointments. The result? A one-hour workshop that I’ve led at dozens of conferences and writers’ group meetings: “Those Critical Ten Minutes.”

Below, I’ve summarized the hour. Before the meeting:

1. Find out which publishers are buying the type of book(s) you’re writing, and choose editors representing those companies.

2. Decide whether a meeting with an agent, editor, or both will best advance your writing career. Then schedule your session(s) as early as possible, or you’ll find yourself answering the “if your first choice isn’t available, who else would you like to meet?” question.

3. What kindof book are you pitching? Romance (historical or contemporary)? Mainstream? Action-adventure? Mystery? Suspense? A combination of one or more of those?

4. Once you’re comfortable with the genre, nail down and become very comfortable with your story’s theme . . .

5. . . . and your audience.

6. Is the book a stand-alone, part of a continuing series, or a trilogy?

7. Can you describe the entire book in one sentence?

8. What is your writing experience/what credentials make you the best person to write this particular book?

9. How is your book different from others like it? (And which titles/authors have succeeded with books similar to yours?)

10. How much do you know about the company “your” agent or editor works for (or owns)?

So now that you’re armed with those nuts and bolts, let’s review some of the basics:

1. Dress as though you’re going to a job interview . . . because you are.

2. If you don’t already have one, get some business cards, and leave onewith the editor/agent.

3. On a 3x5 card, write:

a. your book’s title

b. your book’s theme

c. a brief overview of your story (major characters only, conflicts, how you’ll resolve them, and how the book ends)

You will not hand this to the agent/editor; this is just a guide that will help keep you focused on the purpose of the meeting.

In closing, I’ll share some direct quotes from my agent/editor pals:

“For heaven’s sake, show up on time, and if you can’t make your appointment, get word to us!”

“Don’t be intimidated. We’re ordinary people who belch after a hearty meal, just like you do!”

“Understand your own story well enough to sell it. Don’t meander around the theme. If you can’t describe your plot in a sentence or two, you’re doomed.”

“Don’t tell us it’s a viable story, show us!” (This is where the info in #s 3–9 come in handy!)

“Know what we’re looking for, and for the luvva Pete, don’t try to talk us into buying something we can’t publish or represent.”

“Know what other books, similar to yours, are selling . . . and why.”

“Know how we prefer to receive submissions.”

“If we want to take something (other than your business card) with us, we’ll ask for it. Please don’t expect us to haul a bunch of paper on the train or the plane!”

“Above all, listen! Everything we tell you during one of these meetings is free advice, so take advantage of it!”

So there you have it, boys and girls, expert advice from the experts, themselves.

Here’s hoping you’ll sell whatever you pitch! Meanwhile, write on!


Honor Redeemed