Writer’s Toolbox

Ask The Writer

Your most pressing and perplexing questions about writing answered here by Gotham teacher Brandi Reissenweber.

I'm going to a book release party for a friend of mine and I know her agent will be there, too. Should I try and find him to tell him about my novel?

While a book release party is certainly an opportunity to meet other writers and people in the business, this probably isn’t the place to deliver a breathless pitch. True, agents are often on the lookout for hidden gems, but there are better ways to approach him to see if he thinks your novel is one of them.

Celebrate your friend’s accomplishment. Enjoy the tasty hors d'oeuvres. Chat up the interesting guests. Praise your friend and her lovely prose. Perhaps even introduce yourself to the agent. But don’t focus on selling yourself or your novel. That can come later. A genuine interest in the agent’s work and in literature could spark an interesting exchange. If your novel comes up in the conversation, by all means share. You don’t want to hide who you are and what you do, but you also don’t want to barge in with your own agenda on the agent’s evening to celebrate a success.

If you think the agent is a good fit for your novel, send a query letter after the party. You could certainly mention the conversation you had with him. This is most useful if there’s a relevant connection to your novel. (Even if you don’t talk with him personally, you can mention the party. It may not mean much to the agent, but it wouldn’t hurt.) When you do send your query, let your friend know. That gives her a head’s up so she can put in a good word for you if she wants.