I love your piece on stalking editors! I know most of us really try to be respectful of an editor's personal space. Still, there are no doubt gray areas. I once attended a conference and enjoyed a particular editor's presentation immensely. It was a small group with lots of personal interaction. The session was right before a casual group lunch and I contemplated inviting the editor to sit at a table with other attendees that I knew. I chickened out, and later kicked myself when I saw her eating alone. What would the correct protocol be in this situation? I have since submitted manuscripts to this editor, and we have developed a lovely "no thanks, what else have you got?" relationship.
"Would you like to eat with us? I promise not to pitch you anything," would be a fantastic beginning.
Other nice ways to engage editors in social conversation include:
1. "What are you reading right now? I promise not to pitch you anything."
2. "Would you like another drink? I promise not to pitch you anything."
3. "What a lovely blouse. I promise not to pitch you anything."
4. "I'm a dangerous predator. I'm going to go wait in the back seat of your car with a knife, but I promise not to pitch you anything."
We like authors, remember. And we like being treated like normal people, because we are normal people. We just hate being put on the spot.