Tuesday, April 2, 2019

After the Conference—How to Navigate a Writing Conference, Part 2

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

Wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles, you attended a writers conference and met with an editor about your project. 

At the end of your 15-minute meeting, the editor handed you his or her business card.
“Send me the proposal. I’d like to take a look at that.”

Now what? 
  • Follow through. If an editor tells you to send in your project, do it! These industry professionals are busy people and only offer to look at a project if they truly have an interest. Editors report that only a small percentage of writers actually email their manuscript to the editor who requested it.
  • Make changes. If an editor recommended that you make changes or restructure the order of your chapters, do it! Industry professionals only offer suggestions if they see potential in the writer and the writing. Following your meeting, do the rewrites right away while the suggestions are fresh in your memory.
  • In the subject line of your email, type the words ‘requested material.’ In the body of the email remind the editor that you met at the writers conference. Editors get lots and lots of emails and attend lots and lots of conferences so make their job easier by helping the editor remember where the two of you crossed paths. 
  • Include a note in your email that says, ‘Thank you for your suggestions to improve my writing. I followed your advice and appreciate your time to reconsider the new and improved version.”
  • Send a BCC (blind carbon copy) to your own email for your records.
  • Get to work on your next project while you wait for the acquisitions editor to get back to you. Industry standard is to allow three months for a response.
  • At the three-month mark, if you have not heard anything regarding your submission, forward your initial email including the attached proposal to the editor with a note that says, “I’m checking to see if you’ve had an opportunity to look at this requested project.”
  • Editors do their best to keep up with demands on their time but occasionally challenges ranging from job changes to restructuring to merges interrupt our carefully planned calendars. Once, a year later, I received an envelope (back in the day when we mailed proposals) with a note from the editor, “Cleaning off my desk I found your proposal. It’s been so long I’m sure you found another publishing home.” If I haven’t heard back after two check-in, that’s an Indiana No, and time to move on.

Typically, you will hear back from the editor after sending your requested project. Hopefully you receive a contract to work together. And when the editor likes that project, talk about how you can help market this first collaboration, and other ideas that might make your editor’s eyes light up. 

And keep attending writers conferences. The networking is important for your work, and staying up on industry trends is vital to your career. 


Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells. 


  1. Peggy Sue,

    Thanks for the great insights in this article. Many times writers feel like there is little they can do about the process of finding the right publisher but you have given writers practical and proactive steps they can take. People forget that editors have a lot of material in motion the the author follow-up is critical in this process.

    Straight Talk From the Editor

  2. Peggy Sue
    Thank you for your straight talk about meetings with editors. I am printing the blogposts so I can double check what I need to take to my next conference.