PSA: Write it Down

Today’s public service announcement is brought to you by conference season. This is the time of year (frankly, most of the year) when materials I’ve requested at various conferences hit my inbox at a pretty rapid rate. It’s also the time of year when I can see in black and white just how many people bothered to make note of what I asked them to send.

Here’s the thing: You’re sitting in your pitch session, maybe still a bit nervous even after successfully delivering your pitch, and suddenly I (or insert the agent/editor of your choice) open up my mouth and say I’d like to see a bit of your project. And I hand you my card and ask you to send me something. You nod seriously, maybe your mouth opens and closes a couple of times, and you thank me. Maybe you ask another question, maybe I do. But that’s basically the end of the pitch, so you stand up and gather your things, shake my hand, and head out into the wilds of the conference.

So, what didn’t happen there? You didn’t take a minute to write down what I requested. Nope. You just tucked my business card somewhere and took off. Because I asked you for something! That’s huge! The moment is going to be imprinted on your brain forever!

Except… it really isn’t. And in a day or two when you sit down to send the material, you won’t remember the specifics of my request. So you’ll check the agency website and send what we ask for in a query (which, news alert, is not what I ask for when I meet you at a pitch session). Or better yet, a month or two will pass, because you learned something good at the conference that made you go back and rework something in your manuscript. And now you want to send what I asked for, all shiny and freshly polished, but again, you can’t recall precisely what I requested. Maybe you can’t even find my business card.

This problem is so easily solved. Bring a notebook with you into the pitch. The one you’re using to write down stuff at the conference. It can be big or small or even electronic. It can be the notes app on your phone. And when an agent or editor requests chapters or pages or your manuscript, write it down. Immediately, sitting at that table. If they’re chasing you out of the room because your pitch session ran long, write it down the second you step into the hall. Include the pertinent details off the business card while you’re at it: name and email address. That way if the card goes astray, you’re still in good shape.

It takes one minute. Just do it. Your future self will thank you. And so will I.