Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Conferences - by Linda

This past weekend, Kelli and I attended an authors and agents conference in Austin. I was a little concerned about spending that much money, and wondered if it would really be worth it. Now that it's over, I have to say that it was worth every penny. I learned a lot, and I'm not just talking about from the workshops. We had several opportunities to informally meet and pitch to agents and editors. In those circumstances, the agents were very patient and guided us through the process of pitching. And they were encouraging.

The formal pitch session was still terrifying for me, but I made it through. The agent I had was kind and led the session until I quit being a wreck. Then we got down to talking about my book.

So, here's my advice for you if you want to attend a conference:

Make sure it's a good one.
Check out the agents before you go and know which ones you want to approach.
Pay attention to the dress code or at least go for business casual. This is not the time to get your freak on.
Don't get so drunk at the cocktail hours that the agents are more interested in your antics than your book.
Know your book well; plot, characters, subplots....
Polish your pitch. Practice it. Then practice your informal one. Keep it short and as uncomplicated as possible. If you make your friends' eyes glaze over while talking about your book chances are the same thing will happen with an agent.
Listen to what different agents tell you.
Don't take it personal. It's just business.
Meet as many of the other authors as possible. Ask about their books, how their interviews went, what different agents are like. Exchange business cards.
Most of all, enjoy the experience and remember what you learned for the next one.

Even though I was nervous, I will probably attend next year. I don't think the experience can be beaten.

Linda Lindsey

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