Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making Your Fifteen Minutes Count

More research is involved in becoming a published writer than just gathering facts for your story. You also need to know which editors or agents to meet with at a writer's conference, and how to pitch your story within a short window of time.

I asked Cindy Sproles, Executive Editor of Christian, to share her thoughts on how writers should use their fifteen minute conference appointments. - Sandy

Cindy: The fifteen minutes an author is given in the presence of an agent or publisher is vitally important. Learning to make the most of this time should be a defining moment for the author. Agents should walk away with a “memorable” moment.

Take these tips and make your fifteen minutes of fame last a career:

·        Write your pitch and practice it. You should be about to bolt from a dead sleep and recite your pitch.

·        Bring business cards and one-sheets and proposals to your appointment. Never attend a conference without business cards. Hint:  Take your business card to the next level…add a photo. A photo helps the agent/publisher place a name to a face.

·        Get a professional email address. Consider an email address with your name, i.e., An email address containing your name helps agents/publishers recognize you. is not helpful nor is it professional. Build a successful platform by beginning with a nice email address.

·        Practice professionalism, handshake and greeting. Jot down questions in advance so you are able to present your work effectively and concisely. Agents appreciate those who are prepared and courteous of their time.

·        Be familiar with the agent/publisher and what they represent. Don’t offer a non-fiction editor a fictional work. This is a waste of their time and yours. Do your homework prior to your appointment and choose your appointments wisely. There is little value in presenting your work to an agent/publisher who does not deal with your genre.

·        Be prepared. Have your information ready when you arrive at your appointment. Time is valuable. Don’t spend it upside down digging in your brief case. Carry one business card, a one-sheet and a proposal. Offer the business card, and give the remainder only if the agent/publisher requests it.

·        Don’t argue. Agents know their business. If they say a WIP is not ready, take heed. Writing is subjective. Show your work, listen, and walk away leaving a good impression. Even if you don’t agree. A good impression will get you a second look…arguments scream, “Stay away!"

·        Simple discussion. If you do not have a finished piece, that’s fine. Choose an agent/publisher with whom you can discuss publication and market needs in your chosen genre. Again, prepare questions in advance, take notes as they answer. You’ll receive a wealth of information.

·        Say thank you. Ask for their business card and send a thank you note. Agents/publishers sit through hundreds of interviews and are rarely thanked for their time and attention. Be the one to set a new precedence. It shows your sincerity and it’s a vote of confidence for the professional.

A lot can be accomplished in a fifteen minute appointment. Make the time count and you’ll forge valuable and long lasting contacts in the publishing world.


Cindy Sproles is the Executive Editor of She is an author and teacher as well as a popular conference speaker. Cindy is the co founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and serves as the Devotional Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her new book, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can Be quickly becoming a mover and shaker in unique devotionals.  Cindy co writes the popular He Said, She Said devotions and serves as co host of Christian Devotions Speak UP!, the syndicated blog talk radio show for Christian Devotions. Visit Cindy at and

For your last writer's conference did you do your research beforehand? Did you take the time learn what each agent or editor wants during an appointment and choose the proper person to meet with? Have you done most of the things Cindy recommended? What was your experience?