Get off the plane for Nitwitville

Dear Miss Snark,

I can't believe I actually have a question. It might very well reveal me to be a nitwit of the highest water, but perhaps my exhaustion from covering a massive trade show explains my nitwittery.

You've written about writing conferences and the etiquette of meeting editors and agents. If I were attending such a thing, I would keep my clips with me at all times and if asked, I would whip them out and shamelessly show them to anyone I met, but I don't expect to meet book
editors at these trade shows. I really just expect to talk to manufacturers and artists.

Yesterday during a break, I left my heavy backpack in the press room and stepped outside to join the throngs of smokers enjoying the fresh desert breeze.
You never know when you're going to stumble over the next hot product or crafter, so when a woman joined me on my bench in the shade, I introduced myself and said hello. She introduced herself, and we asked each other what we were doing here. She said, "I'm with Sterling Publishing. I'm trolling for writers and trends."

I just about dropped my cigarette. And I desperately wished I had martini to slurp.

I replied, "Really! I'm a writer, and I'm trolling for trends, too!"

Thereupon we had a nice conversation about the things we were seeing, and she opined that the coolest crafters can't write. I interjected that I am the opposite -- I'm a writer who crafts.

She was also celebrating signing a much-desired crafter to a four-book deal. Although the craft in question isn't my area of expertise, I congratulated her heartily and again wished there were a bar so I could buy her a martini.
We exchanged business cards, and she invited me to send her queries if I found any nifty ideas.

Now my questions: How long should I wait before I follow up? And -- how horrifying is it that I actually said, "Now I wish I had my clips with me"? She pointedly did not reply, "Oh, yes, I would love to see your clips."

Am I a nitwit? Or just forgiveably exhausted? Help!

Well, you're not actually a nitwit YET but you have a ticket for the trip. Turn back now before the plane departs.

The editor gave you all the info you need to remain safely here in Rabbitania. Send her a query when you have a nifty idea (she's looking for trends). Do you have a nifty idea about trends? If YES, you may send her a query. If NO, you send her a nice note saying something like "nice to meet you, I'm looking forward to reading that hot crafter's new book and congrats on this other book from Sterling that I just read (cause you went to the store and looked up Sterling's books and have something nice and genuine to say about them) and here's what I liked best".

You'll notice the word clips did not enter into that paragraph at all.

Do not take your clips out to show anyone at a trade show or any other place unless it's a business meeting wherein you are being asked about your experience. It is akin to pressing your short stories onto agents or editors you meet at the dentist's office cause "you're ready to embrace opportunity". Embrace opportunity by meeting, and NOT shooting yourself in the foot.

PS Killer Yapp was quite keen on decoupage until he realized that "no thumbs" was even more of a hindrance than "all thumbs".


Dave Kuzminski said...

Important! Was her name Cynthia Sterling?

Anonymous said...


No, and now I really regret writing to Miss Snark when I was obviously too tired to think straight. I should leave the questions to others and just appreciate Miss Snark's brilliance -- while silently cowering in the back row and taking copious notes on what smart writers are thinking.

I don't really shamelessly show my clips even to those who want to see them. I've never gotten an assignment from showing my clips or querying. I usually get calls from editors who have seen my work on their own -- the clips are just there in case I need to coax a shy artist to trust me.

I merely aspire to being shameless.

Stacia said...

Why would you regret writing, Anonymous? It was a good question, and I'm sure you're not the only person who's ever had the thought. In fact you're probably not the only person who ever told that editor "I wish I had my clips."
The important thing is, you had a lovely chat and she invited you to contact her.

And you asked a valuable question, that gave all of us another piece of useful info.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Hi. Here goes: What are "word clips?" Do all writers have them? Should I have them? (Do I have them and not know that's what they're called?)

Anonymous said...

"Clips" are copies of your published work. As MS pointed out, it's more of a journalism term. Magazines and newspapers want to make sure they see their writers' clips before they take them on for an assignment.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Thanks Poohba. I'm relieved to know they don't pertain to me because I have been clipless.