Thursday, April 30, 2009

Squeeee!....and a query

N'kay.

So, a wonderful publisher has contacted me out o' the blue and asked to set up an appointment at an upcoming conference (3 guesses as to which conference) to discuss my book project (actually, I've heard from 2 presses, which is nice). However, I'm overjoyed b/c this one *particular* press is one of my first choices - they have a series that would be perfect for my specific subject and the editor has expressed enthusiasm for building up the series. But, I don't yet have a proper proposal (this will happen in a couple of months, but I haven't begun officially shopping it around).

Now, I'm sure this is just a 15 minute, "tell me a bit about your project", etc. meeting and I know they'll be meeting with a lot of folks at the conference. But, I know that some of you have experience with this kind of conference/publisher meeting - what are your thoughts? What should I bring (obviously not the manuscript or anything!), but I'm thinking an abbreviated CV, a paragraph or two on the project along with a table of contents. Any other advice? Experiences like this?

16 comments:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I think that if you're pre-proposal stage, then... well, is there any chance in hell at getting a draft proposal ready to go? 3 pp, plus table of contents. You can work off of a grant proposal.

But absent that, yes: an abstract (labeled as such) with table of contents, a CV (abbreviated to show research only), and your card. Bring hard copies, but e-mail them to publisher before the conference so s/he has time to look over them before the meeting. Emphasize that this is *not* a proposal, and that you hope to have a formal proposal and chapter draft by Date X, but that this should give them a general idea of where you're heading.

Then, talk about the book. Practice talking about it. Practice being interested in your own project. Believe in it.

E-mail me if you want more conversation on this, 'kay? And make sure we get the details at the meetup!

heu mihi said...

No advice, but congratulations!!!

squadratomagico said...

I'm with Notorious: if the publisher is as exciting as you say, then give a crappy paper and rededicate all that time towards cramming together a proposal, if possible. It will help to give the editor something to look at once s/he gets home, rather than having to recall your conversation from memory alone.

Alternatively, if you perhaps have an article that you feel captures the style or subject matter of your future book, perhaps you could give Editor and offprint, a cv, and an abstract.

If neither of the above options works, then go with a good, tight abstract, a table of contents, and a cv. Perhaps end the abstract with a short sentence indicating your target audience (since presses are businesses, they always want to know who will buy the product.)

In conversation, believe in the book, as Notorious says. If you can suggest how your work would fit with their list -- perhaps name some recent works that you'd like to see your own book shelved next to -- that also may be a plus.

Editors are an interesting combination of super-educated people who love ideas (they read all day, after all, and many of them have higher degrees) and pragmatic business people. They love to talk about your work, but they also at least hope to make some money from publishing you (though many university presses lose money anyway). To the degree that you can suggest your work will increase their prestige and their bottom line, that's a plus.

Sisyphus said...

Yayyyyyyy!

(does the Kermit happy dance)

Ink said...

You may have already done this, but you might consider looking on the publisher's website for their guidelines to see what info they require on their formal proposals -- most publishers have a list of things they want you to cover (and it might not take very long at all).

Congrats! :) Did they call you off of a query letter or did they find you another way? Too cool!

Matthew Gabriele said...

This happened to me at the same conference a couple of years ago (well, I contacted the publishers -- they didn't touch base with me first). It's generally worked out for me and I'm in advanced talks with one of them now.

Anyway, I'd echo what's been said about what to bring. My only additional thing is just to be sure that (like for an interview) EVERYTHING you give them is absolutely perfect. If you don't think you can work up a proposal in time, go with less -- just a TOC.

Other than that, good luck!

Flavia said...

Hooray & congrats! I'll be watching this space for details. . .

medieval woman said...

Hi all - thanks for the well wishes and all the wonderful advice! Ink, this wasn't in response to a query letter, I assume the publisher was looking through the conference program and saw some papers that were on projects of interest. Then maybe did a bit more research from there. The paper I'm presenting happens to be my book project in the larger sense (i.e., not a portion of a chapter, but a section of the intro. with a couple of brief examples taken from chapters). Happily, my paper is done, so I can turn my focus to this (after having wrapped up the last bit of teaching this week). I will attempt to get as much of a proposal done as I possibly can - I can work of a short book prospectus, grant proposals, etc. And at least have something to give them!

Belle said...

I'm with Sis here: happy dance! happy dance! and a big sqeeee! with you!!

Dr. Virago said...

The one thing I add to the already good advice you've gotten: know what other books your proposed book might resemble, even superficially, and be prepared to say how it is different. I really flubbed that question with a meeting with a very good press's editor. He brought up two books in particular, one that was on the same genre, but a set of texts I see as distinctly different from mine, and the other a cultural history on one of the organizing ideas of my work, both recently published by the press. I thought the differences were obvious; he didn't. And I didn't make them clear. (I also made the mistake of thinking the similarities might be attractive to him, since his press had published the other two. I didn't take into account the need for sales -- which means less redundancy/similarity in one press). He took my CV, offprint, and abstract, and I never heard from him again.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

I'd agree with previous commenters, with the caveat that you shouldn't feel *too* much pressure to have a complete proposal in. I had the same experience a few weeks ago, and even though the editor in question is interested in my current project, she was well aware that I wasn't close enough to really formulate a final proposal. You always have these people's contact information to send stuff to them later, so use this for what you can't get any other way - face time, to bounce ideas off this person and see what they seem most interested in. (So, have good talking points, but listen too.) Congratulations and have fun!

Susan said...

What everyone else said. And if there is one thing that should be really clear in your abstract/short proposal/elevator spiel/whatever is WHY PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT WORKING ON YOUR TOPIC WILL BE INTERESTED. That is, some sense of how this all fits into the larger field. For instance, I'm sure that when Squadrato is working on her definitive history of nosepicking in the middle ages, she makes it clear why those who never thought that nosepicking had a history, or one worth talking about, should care about it; and why knowing about nosepicking helps advance larger disciplinary agendas.

Oh, and totally what Dr. V said. It would be better just to write an abstract this week (you could even say, "hey, my paper gives an overview of the book, shall I send that?") and figure out "what the competition is". This is really important.

Good Enough Woman said...

All I can say is "Good luck, Medieval Woman!" You GO! I hope you rock your paper and your publisher meeting. I'm betting you will do both.

Keri said...

Very exciting! Congrats!

What Now? said...

I'm delighted to hear your good news, especially on top of your last post to the effect that life is really good chez MW. Hurrah!

Bavardess - said...

Congratulations! I've worked in publishing (though not academic publishing) and I second the advice about having some ideas prepared on who might be interested in buying your book, both within your immediate subject area and beyond it.