Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conference Jitters - Survival Wednesday

You're standing in the the main hall, your welcome packet clutched in your sweaty palms as you scan the tables and booths for a glimpse of your prey...the agent.

Finding a seat at one of the round tables, you pull out your name tag and affix it to your your, uh, your lapel - yeah.  

You pour out the contents of your manila packet and hunt for your consultation sheet.  Scanning the time slots your eyes dart to the name of the faculty member you've selected.

Yes! You got an appointment despite your late registration!  Agent Reed Moore of the Serious Authors Literary Agency is in your 10am slot.

Immediately your stomach rifle through your folder to make sure you've brought your one-sheet.  Sighing with relief, you hold in your hands; the result of hours of shaping and trimming and refining...its your pitch.   

Microphone feedback pulls your eyes to the podium in front. Its time to finish up breakfast and head to your first 15 minute meeting.  You gulp...your pulse races...this is your ONE and ONLY chance at becoming a "real" writer... 

What if it goes terribly wrong? What if you get flop sweat and stutter like you did during your 8th grade oral report?  What if they're mean and cut you off mid-sentence with a bored sigh and shake of their head?  What if... What if....?


First of all, agents are usually super nice people who patiently listen to you as you explain your project. They WANT to find something good out there. They WANT to listen to you.  Relax...and slow down. And start your pitch with confidence.

You are passionate about what you've written. That will show through. And this is NOT your one and only chance. Publication is a survival process...not just selection...keep at it and you'll find success.

Some things to keep in mind while preparing for the conference and your meeting with an agent....RESEARCH!

Meet with an agent that actually represents your genre.  Go on their website and find out their submission guidelines and have a proposal and query with you just in case they ask for it.  Always...ALWAYS, have one chapter with you.   

I was at a group meeting and a woman pitched a project, got the interest of the agent, and was asked for a sample of her writing.  She didn't have one. Yikes!  They may not ask for it, but for Pete's sake, have it if they do.

Also do some research into the type of books releasing this year under the agent or the publishing house.  Tell them where your book would go on the shelf. Would it go next to their  newest Amish title?  How about next to their latest CIA thriller? Show how you fit into a genre...not that you're a copy. There's a difference.

Let them know you're aware of the business side of writing. Look professional. Shake their hand. Have a pitch-sheet or a one-sheet for them to take with them.

And don't forget why you're really at the conference. To learn and grow in your craft. Take the classes and workshops. Listen to the keynote speaker and RELAX!   You'll get there.

Until next time...Go Write!

Photography by Magnetbox. Photograph by Matt Grover.


Hart Johnson said...

ACK! You've made me nervous and I am not even GOING to a conference! I don't have the money or time to travel. Those are great things to keep in mind, though!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Hart- Okay, that was the exact opposite response I was hoping for. I don't want to make people nervous...just prepare them. 0_0