Chip MacGregor

July 10, 2013




Someone wrote to say, “I know you’re going to the big RWA conference this month. Of the appointments you have at a conference like that, how many actually result in your asking for more material? How many result in you giving serious consideration to an author? How many will you actually sign to represent? Just curious.”

Of the appointments I have at a normal writing conference, I’d say I might have 15 to 30 appointments — some formal, some informal.

Of those, maybe 5 or 6 result in my asking to see more.

Of those, I may get serious about 1 or 2.

Of those, I may or may not sign one to an agency agreement.

For years, most of us have agreed that we’re looking for ONE GOOD PROJECT at each conference. That will mean the conference basically pays for itself. Sometimes I don’t get any. Sometimes I get one or two. And I should note that RWA is one of the very best conferences in the country – a great place to learn about writing and the industry (not just for romance writers, but for anyone looking to make a living with books in this country). It’s coming up in Atlanta later in July, and it’s worth every penny to attend.

On a related matter, I had someone ask, “What is the most important piece of advice you can give to a writer heading to an agent or editor appointment at a writing conference?”

The most important piece of advice is simple: Have your proposal and sample writings so well honed that an agent or editor has no reason to say “no.” That’s easier said than done, of course, but that should be the goal. A great idea, expressed through great writing, in a great proposal, preferably by an author with a great platform. All of those things take time and talent, of course, but that’s the best step you could take.


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  • Rick Barry says:

    Yes, interesting statistics. A roommate at a past writers conference was at first ecstatic when an agent had requested sample chapters. Later, though, he came back and said, “Maybe she says that to everybody just to keep from hurting their feelings.” I had a tough time convincing him that no sane editor or agent will invite every conferee to send unwanted material just to spare their feelings. It’s amazing how doubt can paralyze a writer.

    As always, thanks for an interesting insider perspective, Chip.

  • Meghan Carver says:

    Interesting numbers, Chip. Thanks for the advice.

  • Clint Hall says:

    In Michael Hyatt’s book, he defines a proposal as a query letter, title page, brief synopsis, and three sample chapters. Does that match what you’re looking for in a proposal when you meet a writer at a conference? It occurs to me that what’s expected in a proposal might change from something you send in versus something you hand across a table.

  • Mona Karel says:

    From attending many conferences it seemed most of the agents/editors were asking for at least a partial from most of their appointments, even though most of them pass on the submittal. Do you think some writers pitch a good game but don’t follow through?
    But I’ve also heard very few people actually get around to sending in that requested submittal. Has that been your experience?

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