Posted by: Katie B | September 25, 2010

RUCCL 2010: Be Prepared!

One of the most awkward moments I have ever witnessed involved a conference participant getting angry at an agent because she thought he was an editor.  Does that make any sense to you?  It went something like this.  “You’re not an editor?  (Big annoyed sigh.)  What are you? (Answer)  An agent?  (Snotty sneer to voice.)  Well, what’s an agent do?  I thought you were supposed to be an editor!”

Needless to say, the rest of the table sat in shocked silence. 

The agent in question represents one of the top-selling picture book author/ illustrators of all time. 

She recognized her rudeness because she felt compelled to defend herself.  “I came in late.  I didn’t hear you introduce yourself.” 

As if that would have helped.  The mentor list had been posted online for months and was included on the conference application.  There was only one male mentor.  The rest was  female.  The bio of the sole male mentor clearly stated who he worked for, and what he did (agency, agent). 

Do you think he will be taking her as a client anytime soon? 

Moral:  Be prepared.  Treat each encounter with a professional in the writing field as an onsite interview.  Do your research.  Know your mentors.  Know what they work on, what they like, what they ate for lunch. Between websites, blogs, twitter, and the library, you have no excuse.   

If you don’t take your “job” of writing seriously, neither will anybody else.  Don’t ever forget that the book business is just that – a business – no matter how creative.  And the people working in it are professionals with bottom lines and budgets and quotas.  If you want to get published, you have to play the game.  Not to the extend that Gordon Gekko did.  But you have to treat the others you encounter with some respect.  Doesn’t matter if you are the next Truman Capote.  If you piss of the gate keepers, they will throw away the key.

So do your research my friends!  Even if you can’t find the time to read about all 70 of the 2010 RUCCL mentors, you should have a few under your belt.   Find someone that you really want to speak with.   Have some understanding of what you’re getting into.  If not, you are just wasting time!

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