Things are a bit… weird right now, to put it lightly. Due to the concern over Covid-19 spread, many conferences and book events are being canceled. This is a good thing, because it is keeping people safe, but I know it can be disappointing, too.
Conferences and book events are great places to network. However, with the cancelations, it might feel like that networking won’t happen. But it can! I want to go over some ways you can still network even if your event was canceled.
Most conferences have a list of professional attendees posted on their website. Start there. Who were you most excited to meet with? Find those people online. Many email addresses can be found by a quick google search. Follow agents and editors you were supposed to meet (and others!) on Twitter.
If you can’t find an email address, reaching out via social media is okay. I wouldn’t use this as your first option, but it’s a good backup plan. If the agent/editor has their DM’s open (I do!), shoot them a message! Your message should look something like this:
Hi! I was excited to meet you at (name of conference/event) and was disappointed that it was canceled, so I wanted to reach out and connect!
You can add a question or the reason you wanted to meet them. Avoid pitching your book this way. You can mention it briefly (I have a YA contemporary, can I query you?) and ask for their submission guidelines (look for these online first!!!!).
Email is the ideal way to make these connections. If it was an agent (or editor who accepts unagented submissions) you were excited to pitch, mention the conference in the subject of your query letter as well as in the body of the email. It can’t hurt to let the agent/editor know you were going to attend the canceled event!
If you’re not trying to pitch your book and just wanted a chance to talk with publishing professionals, you can do that, too. I can’t guarantee a response since agents and editors are very busy, but some will be willing to chat with you briefly. If you had a specific question that you wanted to ask at the event, email the agent/editor (or ask via DM if you can’t find their email address).
I’ve seen a lot of agents and editors doing “#askagent” or “#askeditor” type things on Twitter. Authors are doing it as well! Search these hashtags on Twitter and join in. This is a great way to connect with agents, editors, and authors, and it allows you to ask your questions. Plus, it gives you a chance to reach out to professionals beyond those you would’ve met at your canceled event. I also highly recommend looking at other questions and answers as well. You’ll learn a lot this way!
Conferences/book events aren’t only for making connections with agents, editors, and other publishing professionals. They’re a great place to meet fellow writers, and having a community is so important when you’re a writer. It can be lonely otherwise!
Go about connecting with authors in the same way you did editors/agents. The list of attendees won’t be as easily available, but try searching on Twitter for the conference name. A lot of other authors may have mentioned they were going to attend. Follow them and reach out, especially if you write in similar genres. You can also try searching the name of the event on google. If authors mentioned the event on their website, you’ll find them this way, too. Most will have a contact page available so you can connect.
Just because you can’t leave your house doesn’t mean you can’t still network. The internet is a great way to make connections. Email agents, editors, and authors you might have met at your canceled event. Many will be willing to talk with you. At the very least, most agents will accept your query!
Stay safe and healthy, everyone!
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