Almost to a person, editors told me they were happy to meet with graduate students one-on-one at these events. They said the best way to set up an appointment in advance was to send a research abstract along with an introduction mentioning your department head, especially if the chair had published with the press.
Do a little homework before writing to editors, they advised. Their buzzword for that assignment was “fit.” Does your research project fit with the kinds of books the press publishes? There’s not much reason to bug an editor about my dissertation (a study of federal environmental policy in the American West) if a press’s catalog is full of monographs about ethnicity and gender.
So, what happens after you’ve winnowed down presses to a few good fits and made an appointment with an editor? What materials should you bring to a conference?
Every editor I spoke with did not want to haul home a ream of your writing, so leave the manuscripts behind. Instead, bring a concise proposal.