Thursday, November 16, 2017

Look for the “Lean” in Publishing

by Cyle Young @CyleYoung

The most arduous of being a published author is actually the “process” of becoming a published author. Aspiring writers have to jump through so many hoops—writing conferences, writing retreats, endless platform building, elevator pitches, critique groups, and workshops.
The list goes on and on.

But savvy writers learn how to strategize their time, platform, and craft development. Every one of the aforementioned “hoops” have tips, tricks, or best practices that can help you elevate your writing career if you understand the industry and mix it with proper comprehension of how people think, act, and work.

Look for the “lean”.

One of my favorite tricks is useful when you are officially pitching an agent or editor. I call it “look for the lean”. Whether you are delivering your short elevator pitch, or when you are pitching your book to an editor at a one-on-one appointment, make sure to watch how he/she sits.

Interested people will naturally lean forward. Disinterested or bored people will lean backward, as if to get comfortable, or prepare to wait the presentation out.

As an agent I have caught myself giving these subconscious signals quite frequently. I try to stay aware of what my body language is speaking, but I often see writers making “pitch” mistakes.

If an editor or agent sits back in his/her chair—you lost them. You should move on to another project or pitch another idea. For whatever reason, your pitch and/or idea is not resonating. Always have back-up ideas for just this scenario.

When an agent or editor leans forward, you have their attention. Keep sharing with a concise, well thought out explanation. You should always hope to see an agent or editor lean forward during your conversation.

Make sure you spend time observing the editors or agents other interactions with writers to see if you can keep up on any body language signals. And when you are pitching, don’t forget to look for the lean.


Look for the "lean" in #publishing when interacting with professionals - @CyleYoung (Click to Tweet)

Cyle Young is an author and literary agent, husband & father of 3. As a self-proclaimed “Binge Writer”, Cyle writes over 30,000 words in a weekend. Get his free Binge Writing video class at


  1. Thanks for the advice, Cyle. From now on, I will make sure to pay attention to the lean.

  2. So helpful for far more than just pitching! Thanks!