your money's worth)
How often have you read interviews with published authors
who've said that their novels were published because a
well-known editor or agent liked their work? How do you
think they attracted the attention of the publisher/editor
in the first place?
Most of the time it was a case of being in the right
place at the right time. If you're like me, I know what
you're thinking. You dont live in New York City so
how are you supposed to be in the right place?
a Writers' Conference
Recently, my co-author and I attended our first writers'
conference in Columbus Ohio. Being in the mid-west, the
conference isn't the largest available and there was a
shortage of science fiction/fantasy agents and editors.
However, don't discount a conference because it doesn't
specialize in your preferred genre. Take time to research
the speakers and you might find a few gems attending a
conference near your home. The speakers at the Columbus
Conference were highly informative and experienced.
Brenda Copeland, an editor with Simon and Schuster opened
the conference with a very instructive and entertaining
talk about what to expect from a writers' conference and
the publishing industry. Agent Jennifer DeChiara
delivered an insightful session over writing query
letters and gave writers an opportunity to try out their
pitch lines. Frederick Levy's talks over script writing
and query letters for scripts were educational sessions
that have Ciara and I excited about trying our hand at
screenplays. He included a brief workshop over query
letter writing that helped me pinpoint several weak spots
in my own letter.
There were too many highly informative speakers to cover
in this article, but these three give you an example of
what you might find at your local conference. However
Once you get to the conference you need to do more than
just sit in the sessions and listen. If you're seeking
publication, a conference is the place to meet potential
agents and editors in person. Before we went, Ciara and I
had scheduled a consultation with Paul Stevens of Tor. My
knees were knocking so hard it's a wonder we were able to
hold the consult over the noise but he soon put me at
ease. I came to realize that agents and editors really
are people and some of them are as nervous about meeting
the writers face to face as I was about meeting them.
These in-person meetings also gave me the opportunity to
decide if I wanted to pursue querying a particular agent
or not. Let's face it. Working with an agent isn't
automatically sunshine and roses. You're allowing this
person control of your dreams and if you don't like the
person, odds are you won't be happy with the way they
handle your novels. You need to feel comfortable talking
to your agent and they need to feel comfortable talking
A few donts I observed being broken:
Dont grovel. It's not becoming and it's won't
convince an agent to represent you. There's a fine line
between schmoozing and begging. If you're not sure if
you're overstepping it, have a friend pretend to be the
agent you most want to impress and ask them to rate your
conversation. Confidence really pays off.
Do NOT tell an agent your life story. Not even if you're
pitching your autobiography. Certain subjects are going
to make some people uncomfortable and even if an agent
finds your book very compelling, it's a different matter
to hear all the atrocities in person than to read it on
paper. Remember, agents/editors are people and they each
have their own personal boundaries/comfort level.
Don't tell an agent about losing your life savings to a
disreputable agent. This tells the agent that you're
probably so bitter that they may have a difficult time
working with you. It also lets the agent know that you
didn't do your homework before signing with the
questionable agent. Unfortunately many writers have lost
money to bad agents, it happens, but you're at the
conference to make the best first impression you can make.
Save confessions of poor business decisions for much
later in your relationship... if ever.
4) Don't argue with
the editor or agent. Whether you schedule a consult or
just pitch your work to an agent/editor between sessions,
don't argue with him/her if you're told that your work
isn't for them or when they make suggestions on how to
improve your work. While rejection and criticism hurts,
now is not the time to become defensive. Thank the person
for their time and move on. You'll make a far better
impression and who knows? Maybe if you follow the
suggestions you're given and you resubmit your work, it
might be accepted. If you become defensive and
antagonistic, the editor/agent is going to remember and
reject your work because they don't want to deal with an
DO go to have fun.
Meet other writers, talk about your publishing hopes and
dreams and share your thoughts with others who understand
your passion for putting words to paper.
Copyright 2003 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved