One of the obvious benefits of attending a writer’s conference is pitching to agents face to face. An agent even commented during the recent West Coast Writers Conference in Los Angeles that attendees are already ahead of the game, as compared to blind query submissions from writer’s they never met or at least referred to them.
There’s a wealth of information at conference attendees’ disposal. Let’s investigate.
THINGS TO CONSIDER IF YOU’RE PITCHING AN AGENT
- Some pitch sessions allow for you to send material in advance. If an agent doesn’t connect with your work, they’ll still take the time to make suggestions regarding the plot and characters to help make your work more marketable. That’s a good thing. Many agents won’t even take the time to provide notes on how to improve your novel, much less take time to read the first 100 pages or, in even rarer instances, the entire book.
- Be prepared to have another work to pitch in case an agent asks their famous question, “What else do you have?”
- It’s great to get feedback on your novel because it will only strengthen your work and make you a better writer.
MAKING THE MOST OUT OF A WRITER’S CONFERENCE
- I purchased the gold package, which included all the bells and whistles. While I got a lot of information, there was no way I could attend every single class. Next time, I will likely choose a middle package. The conference focused on speculative fiction, there were plenty of agents there interested in contemporary adult fiction.
- Although you can pitch to as many agents as you can and go to as many classes as you want (with the most expensive package, that is) not all of the agents represent your genre. Some classes also overlap. Do your research ahead of time.
- You waste both an agent’s time and your time trying to force them to listen to a pitch that’s not even remotely what they’re interested in. I only pitched to agents that represented contemporary adult fiction. Not every writer chose to do this. Some chose to pitch to everyone without doing research. Which is fine, but if my work is not sci-fi and the agent says they only rep YA (specifically sci-fi), and I’m adult contemporary fiction, then I’m not going to pitch to that agent. I feel like you maximize your time by researching the agents that reps your genre.
- I also made business cards, but simple ones. I listed only my name, e-mail, phone number, and portfolio site. I didn’t put a title such as “writer” underneath because that was a given if I’m at a writing conference. I chose my portfolio site (sonyoestavillo.com) because it’s a simple and clean Adobe Portfolio layout. It has all three of my blogs on separate tabs on the menu bar and a portfolio of my work as a videographer/content producer. I will eventually add an author’s tab once I lock down an agent.
- One agent suggested that I first focus on cleaning up my novels and finding beta readers, and worry about the website with a writer’s bio and current works later.
- It’s also important to network with editors that can help with your manuscript (s). I met one that will help with my first novel after an agent requested to read it. So, be prepared to pitch both novels if you wish, especially if an agent turns down one but likes the other.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If you are on a budget and you want to attend a writer’s conference, research the workshops and classes they are providing. Choose the classes you want to go to and the specific agent(s) that represents your genre. This will save you on time and money.
On the other hand, if you can afford to buy the most expensive package at a writer’s conference then go for it. You will be exhausted, but attend as many classes as you can. Take tons of notes, network, and don’t forget to drink a bunch of coffee (and water) because you’re going to need remain alert (and hydrated).