This past weekend was filled with excitement and new learning at the NY Writer’s Conference. Yes, I did meet a few literary agents and, Yes, they did ask to see two of my books. I will be sending off manuscripts today and feel rewarded by their response. There were also a few important things that I picked up in the well instructed workshops that I felt I should pass on to you:
1. Pitch: When pitching your work, much like the opening paragraph of your query letter, keep it simple but to the point. For example: “My book, (title) is complete at (number) words and is a (describe genre: i.e. YA, Self-help, Women’s Lit…). Then, in two to three short sentences, explain the storyline, especially the main character and what the main character goes through, why they go through it, and the goal to be accomplished (climax). Don’t give the ending away.
2. There is a large difference between YA and middle-grade books. If writing a YA book, it may be beneficial to add the specific age group you are trying to reach (11-14; 15-17, etc.). A middle-grade book is a younger audience than YA, they are not young adults. Many people supposedly make this error and when agents see that the author doesn’t know the difference, it doesn’t help them feel confident in your writing.
3. Agents are really nice people. Believe it or not, until you’ve sat in front of an agent, you may not have the respect for them that they deserve. Imagine having a job that begins with looking over one piece of paper. Then, every five seconds someone drops off another piece of paper every day for the rest of your life. I know, it’s dramatic but quite the realization of agents. They are people who actually care but they do expect authors to take the time to make their job, and decision on you, easier.
4. Attend a conference. If you haven’t done so already, attend a writer’s conference and use your time to learn as much as you can. Sure, you can read about different areas of marketing, publishing, writing, etc., but when you are at a conference, you will also feel the information and let it sink in. If a thousand authors are attending a class, you can bet that the instructor already knew the importance of the information and the direction that the writing industry is going. It is nice to see, with your own eyes, that you are not alone in trying to figure out how everything works and trying to learn what is really important.
5. A writer’s conference is a nice refresher to any writer. It is a time to take a break and be recharged by being surrounded by others like yourself. You will see that you are not the only person struggling to get ahead and you may discover that what you are doing is appropriate for your goals. The first class that I attended confirmed that I was doing things right and this confirmation gave me my full money’s worth and I still had the rest of the day to go. I left that workshop with a huge smile on my face and feeling that I had more sense than I had realized.
Okay, enough, overall, at a conference, you will never know who you will meet and what may occur unless you go. I assure you, if you are a serious writer that you will benefit in more ways than you probably expected. Also, I met someone their who develops marketing plans for writers, whom I had spoken with on the phone for several weeks prior to the conference and was now able to put a face to the voice. With so many things happening online and over the phone, it was reassuring to meet this person. That meeting added to my excitement and we had a great conversation and I felt like I had made a strong connection that may last a lifetime.