Should I Fly to NY to Meet My Publisher?

Meeting your new publishing team after your first deal is a “must” visit. But time it correctly. Don’t just hop on a plane right after the deal for your new publication is made. It’s too early. Your editor will be focused on getting the contract done. She’ll be thinking about getting you an editorial letter. Your agent doesn’t have much to tell you that isn’t better said over the phone. And you don’t need to go over revisions in person with the editor. (The telephone acts like the perfect therapist when you’re talking about revisions with agents and editors. It serves the same happy function that a car drive often does in prompting conversation with your children: Both you and the editor will be far more open and creative when you’re not looking into each other’s eyes.)

But after your manuscript has been accepted (which should be approximately 12 to 18 months before your book is published), start planning a trip. Ideally that visit will happen 9 to 12 months before your book is published.

All publishers work on the same internal schedule. About a year before a new publication, publishers have what they call launch or marketing meetings. They circulate your manuscript in-house to all the staff that will be working on it. That would include marketing, publicity, subrights and the sales department. At this point, you’ll be on the publisher’s radar. They’ll want to meet you and won’t just be saying a polite hello.

Give your editor a few weeks’ notice so you’re firmly on her calendar. It’s not necessary that your editor take you out to lunch, but what you both want to do is meet and get to know each other. You want to meet the publicity team and you want to walk around the office. I think it’s especially useful to meet the sales force. They love books and, since they’re all extroverts, they will loudly share their enthusiasm.

If you wait to visit until only four or five months before your new publication, your impact will be lessened. By then, most of the publisher’s plans for your book will already have been set into motion. The publisher’s attention has shifted to the list after yours. Four or five months before publication, plans for your book are already securely settled, and there’s just not a lot you can do to impact your new publication.