August 19th, 2008
Where To Draw The Line

I’ve been meaning to discuss something that occurs at conferences. It’s something that is rarely brought up, but happens (I believe) quite frequently. Let me set up the scenario:

You’re sitting at the bar (or in the restaurant) of the hotel with your agent/editor and a friend walks by. You can tell the friend wants to stop, either to chat with you or to get an introduction to whoever you’re with. Your natural reaction is to say hi to your friend, which you do. This reaction is followed quickly by a gut check of extreme discomfort as your friend starts to slow and you see the expression on the agent’s/editor’s face change from happy-go-lucky to deer cornered by ravenous wolves.

The above scenario happens all the time at conferences. You’d think the decision to introduce your friend would be easy, but it’s not. The author who is chatting with the editor/agent is suddenly put in a very uncomfortable position. They don’t want to be a bad friend, but at the same time, they don’t want to make their editor/agent uncomfortable. And make no mistake, they DO get uncomfortable because they don’t (or do) know what the author approaching wants from them. This is especially true if the friend has submitted work to the agent/editor in the past. Hell, they might still be waiting for a response from the agent/editor. See how a simple introduction can become a complicated situation?

For those of you who’ve been in this situation, how did you handle it? For those of you who haven’t, what would you do if you were in either authors’ shoes?

24 comments to “Where To Draw The Line”

  1. Wow. See what I avoided by the SNAFU that sent me home early from SF? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    I think according to good manners, Author A should offer an introduction and Author B should say a brief hello to agent/editor, something to the effect of, “wonderful to see you, Author A, I’d love to talk when you’re free.” And move on.

    Although a conference is a bit different and hearing how many meetings take place in the bar or restaurants, maybe Author B should assume Author A is in a meeting and not interrupt.

    I can see how easily it could appear to be purely casual/social, though, and Author B may not have any clue who that person with their friend is, or why their friend Author A won’t look at them or talk to them.

    So I go back to scenario one and when it doubt, say hi, pleased to meet you, and move on.

  2. Yup, I’m with Charli, except author B should only come up when it looks like an appropriate time. Then Author A can introduce her editor/agent, Author B shakes hands, says its awesome to meet him/her and then says see you later.

  3. I like Charlie and Vivi’s answers. I think it’s important to be a good friend, and that means Author B should also be a good friend and not expect to use Author A as an ‘In’ – unless it was something that had been previously discussed by both e authors before hand. As in. “If we get the chance I’d love to introduce you to my agent/editor.”

    I admit, if I walked into a bar at a conference and saw Vivi and her agent sitting there, I’d go say hi. LOL But I’ve met her agent before, and if when I walked up it felt the least bit like I was interupting something I’d scurry away.

  4. A quick sidebar with your friend and the truth would work well without offending anyone. On the other hand, if the glorious agents and editors get flustered meeting other authors, maybe it’s their problem and not yours. After all, it’s not like they’re in danger of being mugged. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think if I were author B, I’d just wave and keep on walking. Otherwise what Charli said ๐Ÿ˜›

  6. Charli, That should work in theory, but most of what you said depends on what author B does, which is technically out of author A’s hands.

    I think a quick hello is fine, but unless author A signals you to stop, then I think author B should keep walking after the wave or hello.

  7. Vivi, Again, in a perfect scenario that would happen, but do you want to take the chance of author B sticking around if your editor is talking business with you?

  8. Sasha, I agree, but you’re talking about paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal cues. What if author B doesn’t?

  9. Bernard, You should see what happens to editors/agents at a conference. Either people stare at them in the elevators or they’re swarmed. It’s not quite a mugging, but not far off either. *g* As for pulling people aside, I’m not sure I’d want to interrupt a conversation with an editor/agent in order to explain what’s happening. I think I’d rather catch the author later and explain.

  10. Ames, That’s my M.O., too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Easy to say, but I can’t imagine inflicting myself on an agent/editor that way. My first thought would be that the two were discussing business of some sort, and why would I disrupt my friend’s meeting that way?
    Think I’d either wave, or give her the signal to call me, and keep stepping.

  12. Raine, I can’t imagine doing that either, but I suppose it depends on where you’re at in this business. Some people think if they can get in front of an agent/editor, then that’s all it’ll take. Common sense can go right out the window. ๐Ÿ™„

  13. And people really do forget that they’re human ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Ames, Yes, they do.

  15. Nope, I’ve avoided such moments, I think…

    ๐Ÿ˜‰ How? By avoided conventions for the most part.


  16. Shi, I don’t want to have to avoid conventions, but I am becoming more selective. Does that count? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Sasha, I agree, but youโ€™re talking about paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal cues. What if author B doesnโ€™t?

    Then I’d probably say something like, “I’ll come say hi to you when I ‘m done talking business here.”

    Yeah, I’m so shy and quiet. LOL

  18. Shi, I donโ€™t want to have to avoid conventions, but I am becoming more selective. Does that count?

    LOL… well, to be honest, I mostly avoid them because I play better by myself than with others and I can only maintain my ‘good manners’ for short periods of time and not very often. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Sasha, I agree, but youโ€™re talking about paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal cues. What if author B doesnโ€™t?

    Then Iโ€™d probably say something like, โ€œIโ€™ll come say hi to you when I โ€˜m done talking business here.โ€

    This would probably how I handle it should it ever come around. Something like… I’m bouncing a couple ideas of So-n-so but if you want, I can meet you in the bar here about an hour or so.

    That’s clear, to the point, and polite.

  20. Sasha, Yep, that would take care of it. *ggg*

  21. Shi, You not play well with others??? Say it isn’t so. *g* ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Shiloh, I think it’s a matter of being able to think clearly and not internally panic.

  23. Hey, it’s possible to panic on the inside and remain calm outside. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Yes, Shi, it is possible. Too bad it’s a bit spotty at best. *ggg*