It used to be hearing an editor or agent at a conference or event was the only way to discover what he or she was like personally. That's not true anymore. These days you can also learn about an agent's or editor's personality, pet peeves, likes and dislikes and more on the web. Many editors and agents are active with blogs and/or on twitter. Some of the blogs are personal blogs; some are official agency blogs.
Last spring on her blog, Editor Martha Mihalick talked about some of her favorite places in books.
This summer both Agent Kate Schafer Testerman and Agent Elana Roth tweeted about their frustrations of going through queries. Kate shared on twitter after posting requirements on her blog. Elana reposted her tweets as a collection on her agency's blog afterwards. One of the biggest complaints both had was that people don't follow submission directions.
Agents and editors have pet peeves, too. Look at these agents' comments. Jennifer DeChiara tweeted, "Never say 'in regards to.' Just say 'about.' 'I am writing about' instead of 'I am writing in regards to.' Please. I'm begging here." From Barry Goldblatt's Query Lessons: "'Word-jockey' Is an idiotic euphemism for 'writer.'" Lauren E. MacLeod tweets, "Am getting *really* tired of pre-query emails. Just query. If I don't want it, I'll reject."
Do agents ever purchase manuscripts from unpublished writers? Of course! Colleen Lindsay tweeted, "The first project I sold was an unpublished writer. Got her a two-book deal at Pocket. The writing is what matters."
Meeting an editor or agent at a conference helps you realize they are just people like you are. A recent tweet from Agent Jennifer Laughran illustrates that concept, "Faced with 2 equally good choices. To pick either disappoints somebody. What to do? What to do? Horns of dilemma. Ow. OW. QUIT IT, DILEMMA!" As does this one from Editor Ruta Rimas "EEEEp. Has anyone ever been too afraid to read an ms? I really want to love this one and am scared to be disappointed...!!!"
Some tweets may be rather mundane, like comments on the weather, but still give a taste of personality. In the summer Editor Sarah Shumway tweeted, "is there a snowy, chilly book you can recommend that will take me far, far away from the muggy afternoon?" By contrast Editor Kristin Daly tweeted on another day, "But the REAL excitement: Mailroom just brought me advance copies of two fab fall books. Hooray! This rainy, gloomy day is def. looking up."
They all worry about whether their books will do well. Here's a tweet from Editor Elizabeth Law, "Now that G-Force is a hit, I am hoping that guinea pigs will ride a wave of uber-popularity, in time for our own Guinea Dog." Or have hopes for their books. This blog shares some comments from Editor Nancy Mercado on Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle.
Interviews of these figures are often online, too. On this site Editor Laura Arnold discusses editing and publishing book. Sometimes the interviews are directly on the publishing house's site as is the case for this one for Editor Louise May.
So interested in an editor or agent? Of course, you'll read books they've edited and agented, attend conferences where they are, but also find out as much as you can about them on the internet.
Some Useful Resources: Bloggers Who Interview Agents and Editors
Alice Pope's CWIM Blog - http://cwim.blogspot.com
Cynthia Leitich Smith - http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com
Cynthea Liu - http://www.writingforchildrenandteens.com/ in her "Take the Dare" challenge
Wordhustler by John L. Singleton and Anne Walls