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!