Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Crazy Lady in the Bathroom.

Do you guys know this story?

Okay, so sometime in 1992, or whenever, some woman caught an editor in the bathroom and tried to pass her manuscript under the stall wall. Everyone in the publishing industry swears it to be true, and now, before every writer's conference, we're all reminded of the Crazy Lady in the Bathroom and warned not to pass pages like toilet paper.

There's a part of me that's like, "Okay, I know a few eccentric people who might do this." And another part of me is like, "This sounds a bit like the man with the hook hand who kills couples making out in the woods." An urban legend.

Whatever it is, it's a thing, and writers for all eternity will be paying for it.

Because of it, there's this invisible wall hovering between writers and agents and editors at a conference. They look at us like we're going to corner them in the elevator for an impromptu pitch. And we look at them like they're the cool girls at the lunch table. Untouchable.

But they're not. They're people. You can talk to them, but just talk to them like, you know, people.

When you sit down next to a stranger on the bus do you start talking about your book? (I don't know, maybe you do.) But I usually start with the weather, or mention their shoes. I was leaving a conference with an editor after I'd taken her session, and I said, "Thanks for your comments. They gave me a lot to think about." We talked briefly about submissions and then that segued into, "Send me your book when it's done."

That doesn't always happen, but even it if doesn't, you can always use your very normal interaction later in your query.

Dear Jane, 

We met at the NEWSCBWI conference in spring and talked about how much our kids loved Moana...

She might remember you. She might not. But at least she won't remember you as the lady who stuffed pages into her purse when she wasn't looking.

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