Okay, so I said I’d get back to you about an essential little conference called The New York Writers Workshop’s Pitch Conference. It’s a great, long title for a small, intensely important workshop. Every writer that’s trying to get published really needs to go to this (so that’s most of us, of course!)
Here, you’ll polish your pitches under the direction of your Conference Leader in an intimate, workshop-like setting. Then, you’ll actually pitch your book directly to three different editors from major New York publishing houses. And here’s an impressive fact: following their pitch, the majority of conference participants receive requests for either a partial or full manuscript. Some receive these requests from more than one editor at the conference.
It’s easy to connect the dots here. Attend this conference, and you stand a very good chance of attracting the interest of an editor at a major publishing house. Isn’t that what we all want? Isn't that what you've been working so hard for?
The number of attendees is fairly small. When I was there, I believe there were only about 30 writers at the conference. These 30 were then broken into smaller groups in order to perfect their pitches. So the atmosphere and personal attention are ideal. Perhaps this is why there were authors at my particular session from as far away as England and Australia (well, and the fact that they could pitch their books directly to three different editors probably didn't hurt either).
If you want to attend, you need to be accepted into the conference by the organizers. They’ll ask for a concise premise about your book/project and a little information about yourself. But don’t fret about this; just do it. It’s worth it!
There are a few sessions every year in both the spring and the fall, and they have separate conferences for both fiction and non-fiction.
The next conference is pretty soon... Non Fiction Pitch Conference: Oct. 8 - 10, 2010
And for the fiction writers... Fiction Conference: Nov. 12 – 14, 2010
There will be another two conferences in the spring, both for fiction and non-fiction.
Make sure you check out their website for further details, and to register.http://www.newyorkwritersworkshop.comYou really owe it to yourself to go to this one!!!!
Okay, so before I get into today's post, I first need to report back and inform you that I stuck to my goal last weekend and sent out those three query letters. I had made it known that I wouldn't post here again until I did so. Right. And I'm quite pleased that I finally sent some more out. In fact, I've even heard back from the one I sent via email. Unfortunately, it was a rejection, but in all honesty, I'm not really all that bothered by it. I'll go more into my thoughts surrounding rejection letters in a future post, but in a nutshell, receiving one does not culminate in a soul-sucking, earth-shattering moment by any stretch of the imagination. Not by a long shot. So, not to worry; it's all good.
And now that I've got that announcement out of the way, I can move on to the subject of today's post: Conferences and Conventions.
To put it quite simply, if you are an author with a manuscript you're hoping to get published, you need to get out there and attend some conferences or conventions. Here's why you should go:
Make contacts with agents and editors: Although this does depend on the particular conference or convention you go to, most attendees consist mainly of other authors, publishers and agents. There are usually numerous opportunities to hear a whole slew of agents and/or editors discuss a variety of topics at the conference, and you can mingle with them at the many social gatherings. It's really a great chance to network. Later, if you send a query letter to said agent or editor, you can mention in the letter that you enjoyed discussing the finer points of Alaskan ice fishing with them (or whatever...) at the Readercon in Boston. Most editors and agents seem to be quite open about the fact that they will give more careful consideration to a letter from someone with which they've made a previous connection. And that makes sense. Wouldn't you be the same way too?
Make contacts with other authors: There is an amazingly supportive network of other authors out there that are going through (or have already gone through) the same things as you. Given the chance, many people really do like to help each other and share advice... and authors are no exception. At a recent Readercon convention, I showed up on my own, feeling completely out of my element and not knowing a soul, and I ended up having a terrific time. I made new friends, expanded my contacts, and gained first-hand advice that's been absolutely indispensible.
Learn about the business: Panels filled with experts and expert advice abound (the experts almost always consist of some published authors, editors and experienced agents). In fact, conferences often have many panels running simultaneously, so you're often faced with having to decide which panels to attend and which to miss. Panels could be on anything, and may cover topics like: The top ten biggest mistakes authors make, The future of publishing: traditional vs. online, How to write compelling dialogue, The best way to query an agent, or even The worst novels of all time. But attending panels is only the tip of the iceberg. The real learning will come from all the networking that gets done at these things. You'll meet at ton of people, and it seems that all of them have at least a million things to say about the publishing business.
Have fun: There are almost always parties. These are sometimes held in conference rooms, and are often in the conference's hotel rooms. Mingle with other authors and rub elbows with agents and publishers. Discuss how they got into the business over a rum and coke, and laugh about a funny comment they made in their panel that day. Later, when you query them, they can put a face to your name. Not a bad outcome after an evening of fun and relaxation, wouldn't you say?
Alright, I could keep going here, but I think that was sufficient to make my point. I'll give you some links to future conferences & conventions in next week's blog (I'll have to do some gathering first). I will, however, share one upcoming conference with you now.
If you are a fantasy (light or dark) writer, then check out the upcoming World Fantasy convention in Columbus, Ohio from October 28-31, 2010. This one is also known for its parties, but it can, of course, vary from year to year. Here's the link:
So again, I'll pass on some links to more conferences and conventions next week, and I'll also share some info about the New York Writer's Workshop conference, which actually sets you up with three different editors (from three different publishing houses), and allows you to pitch your book to them directly. I did this in the spring, and would recommend it to anyone.
Oh yes, and in the meantime, I do plan to send out a few more query letters. It's always a good idea to set goals!
Yes... a vacation was exactly what I needed. There were no unruly elemental visitors (Hurricanes Danielle and Earl both kept their distance) and I had ample leisure time in a quiet, pristine setting to sufficiently relax and unwind.
I put some finishing touches on a new short story of mine (which I've titled The Inhibitor), went kayaking, scuba diving, and even managed to memorize a good chunk of lines for a play I'll be in this fall. It was great!
So that also means that I no longer have any excuses for putting off the dreaded query letters. It's well past time that I sat down and composed a number of these things for both editors and agents. But this is exactly where I drag my feet and suddenly find a million other things that urgently need to be done instead. Has anyone else had this problem? How did you overcome it?
I wonder, sometimes, why this is (and I ponder this instead of spending my precious time on composing the queries in question, of course). There's something potentially and nerve-wrackingly final about a query, though, isn't there? Editor Jones says 'No,' and then, suddenly, that's it for Editor Jones. That avenue is suddenly closed. And though I know that there are many, many avenues out there, I have a definite aversion to closing any of them.
However, I have decided that I WILL write at least three query letters this very weekend, and I am putting that down here to ensure that I follow through. I'm hoping that by setting this goal (and putting it into writing for all to see), I'll be sufficiently motivated to follow through. Hey, whatever works, right? It's time to face those fears.
I'll post again when it's done, just to keep myself accountable (hey - I need it!) I can do this!