I promised a little more personal information about my very first writers’ conference, so here goes …
My dad joined me for the first two days there. He wanted to be sure I knew he wasn’t there to “handhold” me, but rather he wanted to support me in this very visible way. What a sweet gesture! I won’t forget it.
I met with an agent from NY in a one-on-one session. I can’t say the meeting was terribly successful – partly my fault and partly hers. The fault with me was basically inexperience. I didn’t consider early enough that I would have to explain my book verbally with no notes and no computer, and I certainly had no idea how to talk to an agent. She wanted me to boil down my 117,000-word plot into 2 sentences. Then, when I tried (not very successfully, honestly, even though I had prepared at least that much), she asked how the book ended. When I explained the ending, she wanted to know how the ending occurred. Trying to explain a character’s journey over 40 chapters by answering, “Well, why did THAT happen?” is not easy, no matter what the genre, but most especially paranormal/supernatural, which tends to be complicated by mythology. The fault with her was most likely a difference in personality. She was brusque, impatient and probably tired from all the meetings. In addition, she seemed somewhat lacking in her understanding of today’s technological market (she couldn’t understand how to use a Blackberry so returned it for a “regular” cell phone; she also scorned the Kindle and the iPad). To sum up, our meeting was not “written in the stars.”
I met (more informally) another agent. I will certainly query him about one of my books. However, whether or not that query is ultimately successful, I learned a lot from him. He was entertaining, kind and informative. Even his informal “buzz” late-night bar sessions were great. The subject, of course, was the publishing industry, and he seemed quite upbeat about the future, although he admits the industry is in flux and is pretty frustrating now. One very interesting point to keep in mind for all wannabe published authors is that it takes a LONG time to publish a book, even once an agent accepts you. He says that editors can take months to review books, and the time period isn’t because they are being difficult; they are simply terribly overworked.
Another notable thing about the conference was its sheer all-consuming nature. We talked about the art (and work) of writing for two solid days during sessions, at breakfast, over lunch, and all through dinner. I was exhausted at the end of the conference, but also energized. I’m already planning on attending my next conference, but perhaps it’ll be somewhere like San Diego so my family can tag along and we can vacation after. I think I’ll need the rest!