At the Manuscript Mart, an established literary agent or editor will read your work in advance and meet with you at the conference to provide direct feedback. This one-on-one, 20-minute session will be scheduled for you during the conference. Manuscript Mart sessions are allocated before the conference on a first-come, first-served basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.) Why should I participate in the Manuscript Mart?
Most of us are used to getting feedback on our work from fellow writers, friends, and other people who know the craft but not necessarily the business of writing. The Manuscript Mart is a rare opportunity to receive meaningful feedback on your work from an experienced industry professional who’s “in the publishing game” on a daily basis. While a good number of agents and editors do go on to represent clients they meet, the Manuscript Mart is not only about making a potential long-term match, but about using feedback to strengthen your work. GrubStreet tries very hard to ensure that the agent or editor you meet will have read your work closely, considered it carefully, and offered you the best advice s/he can give, but we can not guarantee that the person you choose will ultimately be the right fit for you. For a good overview on the Manuscript Mart experience, check out this article: Making the Most of Your Manuscript Mart Session.
2.) Will I get a book deal from the Manuscript Mart?
No writer should expect an agent or editor to immediately sign her or agree to publish her work during the Manuscript Mart. We strongly suggest that you focus on receiving direct feedback from an active industry professional, which is an elusive and valuable opportunity in itself. That said, every year a small but significant percentage of participating writers do sign on with agents and editors they meet through the Manuscript Mart, and/or, more likely, initiate relationships that result in book deals.
Pro-agent folks say: These days, agents often heavily edit their clients’ manuscripts, and so have a lot of experience with both macro and micro issues. Agents are therefore familiar with the industry as well as the craft, and can guide you responsibly in both areas. Agents are also “gateways” to editors and publishing companies.
Pro-editor folks say: Though the editor’s role has recently shifted toward marketing and positioning of books, the editors at this conference do still edit, and it is likely their greatest strength. The editor’s eye is trained to notice red flags, redundancies, “lazy” writing; and editors will have unique knowledge about the “state of the market” for your work. And finally: if an editor gets excited about your book, an agent may be more likely to give it a more serious look. (For what it’s worth, the Grub staff all know that meetings with editors have led to as many, if not more, long-term matches as agent meetings).
4.) How do I know if the agent or editor represents the type of book I’m writing?
The agent’s or editor’s bio will give you a strong indication what kinds of books they are looking for and which they have represented recently. You will also want to do some online research and try to read a few books written by their authors, a few of which we have listed for you in their bios.
As importantly, beneath each agent or editor bio, we have listed the genres s/he considers, does not consider or in which s/he specializes. Use the search fields we’ve created to help narrow down the list according to genre.
5.) Now that I’ve picked my Manuscript Mart consultant and registered for the conference, how should I prepare for my meeting?
The best way to prepare is to make sure your manuscript – whether that’s a 20-page writing sample, synopsis, and query letter, or website – are as strong as they can be, free of typographical errors, and the most accurate representation of your work as a whole. We suggest showing it to a trusted colleague, fellow writer, or consultant to give it the once-over. Then make sure you submit your manuscript online to GrubStreet by the deadline of 12:00pm EST on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017. After the deadline, relax and remember that this entire process is subjective and now completely out of your hands. You may also want to read a book by an author that your agent or editor represents, especially one that shares a common theme or sensibility with your work.
6.) What should I expect when I arrive at the Manuscript Mart?
Your registration packet will remind you of the time and place of your meeting. Please arrive at the meeting room a few minutes early and check in with Hanna, our Manuscript Mart coordinator. When the time comes for the meeting, our volunteers will guide you to the two-person table where you will sit with your agent or editor. Other meetings will be going on around you simultaneously, but we have spread out the tables to cut down as much as possible on the noise.
7.) What’s the meeting like? What should I say? What will the consultant say?
We expect the meetings to be warm, friendly and professional, not unlike a job interview in tone. The consultant will “lead” the meeting and, given the time constraints, likely launch immediately into giving feedback on your work. S/he may also begin by asking you questions. Throughout the meeting, you should expect to hear critical feedback that might be difficult to process or accept. If a consultant does not respond glowingly to your work or does not offer you a book deal on the spot, that does NOT mean the work is not valuable or that you have no talent or chances for publication/success; nor does it mean that the critique can not be used constructively to improve your work.
8.) Should I bring anything to the session?
Because the conversation can be overwhelming, we suggest you take notes on a laptop or notebook or even bring a recording device with you. (If you do record the session, you must ask the consultant’s permission first). Some consultants will have made written comments that s/he will give you at the end of the session, but often these comments are just marginal notes. Please do not bring your full manuscript. If the consultant would like to see more of your work, s/he will ask you to submit it at a later date.