When I was a graduate student, I completely misunderstood the reason publishers come to conferences. I thought the primary purpose of the Book Fair was to sell books.
Then I discovered that people that staff those booths are not (usually) people from sales and marketing. They are editors.
And they don’t just stand there at the booth either. They attend conference sessions.
Editors come to academic conferences to find out what’s happening in the areas they publish in. It’s a great way to meet potential authors.
How do you take advantage of this collection of editors?
Call me lazy but there’s some great advice already out there, so I’m just going to link to it.
The key points:
- do your research (at the fair if necessary) & select presses that are a good fit
- have a brief synopsis of your project
- be open to learning new things about the process
- really listen
This time, my strategy was to wait until the conference sessions started, then go into the book fair when most everyone else was leaving. Reaching across book displays to shake hands and introduce myself was a lot less intimidating than I had anticipated. For acquisition editors and marketers, making contact with potential authors and book buyers is, after all, a big part of their jobs. I was glad to keep hearing the refrain, “We are always looking for new stuff.”
An editor’s advice on how to interpret what editors tell you: Interpreting Editorese – Do Your Job Better – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Let me tell you something about the editorial breed. They are, by nature, “interested.” In things, in ideas, in people, in potential book projects. If you approach them at a conference, run into them at a bar, sidle up to them during a long run, and tell them about the project you’re working on, provided it’s reasonably close to a field in which they publish, they are going to act interested. They most likely will be. They will certainly say they are.
Do you have tips for meeting editors at conferences?
Share them in the comments.