Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Webinar Debrief

STATUS: Even though it’s Friday, I’ll be working late. I’m headed to New York on Sunday. Heads up that blogging might be spotty.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? STUTTER by Maroon 5

As you blog readers know, I did my very first webinar on Wednesday for Writers Digest. I thought it might be interesting to debrief it. If you participated in the seminar, I would love feedback so feel free to leave some in the comments section (and also feel free to leave the comments anonymously).

So here’s my debrief of it:

Thumbs up:
1. It’s a great way to reach a variety of writers without having to travel (and vice versa for them).

2. It was fun. I thought the webinar format was professional. There was a tech person to help me for the entire 90 minutes and even before the session began. We even did a trial run on the Tuesday before to make sure I understood how the control panel worked and how to do the Powerpoint presentation so attendees could see it.

3. From having given this seminar live, I had a good idea of what questions get asked and when so I tried to interject them during the presentation so Qs were answered as I went.

4. The question chat box was very cool. I left about 20 minutes at the end of the session to start going through them and answering them. Any I didn’t get to were given to me after the fact. I’ll answer, shoot back to the webinar tech person and she’ll distribute them out to the asking party. Very professionally done.

Thumbs neutral:
1. Nothing compares to audience interaction and there wasn’t really a good way to allow that. Usually I can gauge if the audience is “with me” for what I’m trying to explain but there is no clear way to do that in the webinar.

2. Since we were working on the pitch paragraphs for SF&F novels, it would have been fun to get one or two volunteers to submit their revised pitch so I could talk about them right then and there. If I do something like this again, I think I’ll ask how we might be able to do that.

3. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but 90 minutes felt too short. I wish I had given myself more time to answer questions. But there was a lot of info to cram into 1 hour.

Thumbs down:
I’m not sure I have any but maybe some of the attendees do. If so, feel free to share.

For my part, I do want to ask this question. This is the first time I’ve given a workshop where participants paid to attend. Now of course I’ve given workshops at conferences where attendees paid to attend the conference but they didn’t pay a separate amount to attend my particular workshop.

What do you folks think about that? Should agents give workshops like that?


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69 Responses

  1. Joanna St. James said:

    As long as the paying attendees understand the payment is for the workshop and nothing else, I dont see why not. Especially since you actually have experience and know what you are talking about

  2. Kevin said:

    I thought the webinar was very informative. The 90 minutes flew by, but the material you presented was very helpful. I would agree that an in person presentation would allow for more interaction, but this was the next best thing.

    As far as should an agent give a workshop such as this, why not? To attend in person the participant would have registration fees, hotel, etc., so what’s the difference. I also think that the critique was one of the main selling points and that personalized feedback will make this webinar a great value.

  3. Mesmerix said:

    I really wanted to attend, but couldn’t due to the timing. I work a full time day job. If you do something like this again in the evening or over a weekend, I would love to take part.

  4. Elizabeth Briggs said:

    I really enjoyed the webinar, and also wish it had been longer. I loved the examples and the common problems in SF/F queries. Overall, very informative and helpful. Thank you very much for doing this (and the critiques)!

    Since you couldn’t do it during the webinar, maybe you could critique some SF/F pitches on the blog in the future?

  5. Natalie Aguirre said:

    I loved your presentation and had no idea it was your first one. It was really organized. Your ten top reasons queries/beginnings fail was super helpful though I worry that my story has some of them as do other stories. I would like to know how to make the pitches for these things, like the mysterious object, quest, etc. sound as unique as our stories are.

    That would be a great idea for you to be able to comment on some of the pitches in the session, though I think it would have to be longer. It could really help us hone our pitches.

    While I would have liked a longer session with more time for questions, I was watching at work and felt glad I had the block of time without appointments. For a longer one, an evening or weekend session would probably work better for many of us.

    I do think other participants who weren’t present should know the deadline for submitting to you. If they work and are busy this weekend, they may not think of how urgent it is to listen to this soon. I doubt I would have.

    Also, I suggested to Chuck that you give us a 30 day period next time to submit the pitch. I would have loved to take it to the SCBWI conference I’m going to next weekend for a critique and to my critique group the next weekend. That way what I submit might be better when it gets to you and Sarah.

    But I really appreciated all your insight. Now if I can just apply it and submit something you and other agents would be interested in.

  6. Amity said:

    I had no qualms paying for the webinar. 1. Cheaper than a conference (plane+hotel+meals+fee = no for a college budget). 2. I needed instruction in this. 3. you’re giving feedback on up to 200 (I think that’s the number?) pitches, which is taking you away from your clients.

    If there wasn’t the pitch blurb feedback, I would have wanted a lower fee, but definitely not free! I pay for high-quality instruction, and that’s what I feel like I got. Great job, Kristin.

  7. lac582 said:

    “I do think other participants who weren’t present should know the deadline for submitting to you. If they work and are busy this weekend, they may not think of how urgent it is to listen to this soon. I doubt I would have.”

    This describes me! I was unable to watch the webinar live since I was at work, and am leaving the country for two weeks starting Monday and wasn’t likely going to get the chance to watch the archive until after I get back.

    For those of us who paid but don’t have time to watch the webinar right away can you sum up the deadline and instructions for participating in the pitch feedback?


    I am very much looking forward to watching the webinar when I have time.

  8. Agent Kristin said:

    The deadline to submit your pitch for critique is Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. Even if you can’t listen right now, pop on and go to the second slide in Powerpoint. The instructions are there.

  9. sbjames said:

    I’d never done a Webinair before. I’m not very tech savvy, but I loved it! It was easy to use and I was in my sweats! Plus, the fact that people all over the world could get that info without leaving their house- well, it’s fantastic.

    As a fantasy writer with a big epic style ms, I was one of those who has struggled with my query, thinking (exacty as you said how can I ever fit 110k into a succint paragraph. I wish I’d heard your talk years ago. I don’t have a problem at all with paying for the expertise that agents/editors have gathered. I’d have spent three times that much to travel to a conference to hear it in person.

    Thanks for doing it and thanks for gearing it to the SF/F genre.

  10. bzial said:


    The webinar link went inactive after the webinar ended.

    I contacted WD (I wasn’t able to attend live because of work) and was told that attendees won’t have access to the archived materials until Wednesday.

    That isn’t a huge deal, though it is rather inconvenient given the Friday deadline for the revised pitches.

  11. bzial said:

    Though as an addendum:

    When I e-mailed WD customer service, they did explain the pitch deadline and what we needed to include in the subject line.

    I don’t know if there is other material on the slide you were referencing.

    I look forward to listening to the actual webinar on Wednesday.

  12. twittertales said:

    Paying for individual sessions is a much better system than paying for a whole conference (although that should be an option too). Often there’s just a few people I feel I need to see, and I have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Also, going to a whole conference is so exhausting I inevitably get sick.

  13. Krista V. said:

    Like Joanna up at the top, I see no problem charging people for a webinar like that. If people think it’s worth their money, they’ll pay the fee and sign up. If they don’t, they won’t.

  14. Mary Holland said:

    I thought it was valuable, informative, and worth the money, so go right ahead and charge for this at conferences.

    My only caveat is with the submission deadline vs. access to the webinar materials. We were all told not to bother to take notes, but the materials won’t be available until next Wednesday and the deadline is Friday, so I’m using what I remember to revise my query and hoping I can double-check before the deadline.

  15. lac582 said:

    Thanks for the additional info all. I wrote to WD but I guess the best thing for me to do is to bow out of the pitch piece since it’s silly to solicit feedback before I’ve had the opportunity to watch the webinar and avoid mistakes before I make ’em!

    I’ve never attended a conference, but I imagine event-based pricing (rather than panel-based) is a key part of their business model? But the ability to benefit from the occasional a la carte online seminar is an opportunity I definitely appreciate!

  16. Jess of All Trades said:

    I also attended the webinar and I hope more agents, editors and other professionals decide to give it a whirl! I found your information and presentation style incredibly helpful, succinct, and good humored. I also have no qualms paying for sound advice from a professional – so much information is free these days, I think we sometimes forget that the people giving away that information are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, even though they worked hard to get where they are.

    The personalized critique is a Huge plus. Information with a bonus follow up in invaluable. As I said on the Writer’s Digest Facebook page, you managed to clarify a way to write a query letter (especially for epic fantasy) that no one else has been able to do for me – and there are a Lot of people out there with query advice!

    Anyway, short answer: Great experience, worth the money and time, and thanks!

  17. Anonymous said:

    To me, it’s not a matter of wether people are willing to pay. People are always willing to pay.

    I think there are serious ethical issues and great potential for abuse.

  18. Laurie P. said:

    I enjoyed the webinar. It would have been nice if we could have interacted with you during the presentation–perhaps you could answer questions as they come up instead?–but answering questions at the end did allow the presentation to continue smoothly. I paid for the workshop because of the emphasis on SF&F, but also for the critique. How often do we have a chance for an agent to critique our query?

    For those who missed the webinar, if you read Kristin’s blog posts on pitch blurbs and queries, you’ll get a good idea of how to write your pitch, regardless of genre.

  19. Anonymous said:

    I agree with anon 8:33.

    And this is no commentary on the quality or value of your specific webinar. I’m just answering your question. No, I do not think agents should charge for workshops like this.

    I wouldn’t pay. I’ve paid for an entire conference but have never paid for anything agent-specific (like a critique, etc.), mostly on the grounds that agents should not charge to review work. I’m agented, btw.

  20. pattyjansen said:

    I’m going to answer your parting question, since I didn’t participate in the webinar. Please know that I’m talking in a very general sense, and not about the quality of this specific course, since it sounds like it was informative, and people got a lot out of it. If it had been a con panel, I would have been interested in attending.

    I’m talking about the principle of people paying to attend agent-information sessions. To that I say wholeheartedly: No.

    This is a development that makes me feel very uneasy. I don’t know what the arrangement was with query feedback, but the discussion in this thread suggests that there is some sort of arrangement for workshop participants to submit queries to get a special deal. Note the word ‘suggests’. I’m guessing that it’s probably not the case at all, and there is no special deal. I know your agency is always open, but amongst desperate writers, the rumour mill grinds relentlessly.

    I believe that in the vein of ‘money flows to the writer’, an agent should not charge, and participants should not pay. As another person already said, this sort of thing is wide open for abuse, and although I’m sure all the right things were done in this particular case, the difference is not transparent to the newbie writer.

    I am an unagented writer, and not ashamed of my opinion, so I’ll attach my name to this reply.

  21. Ross Lampert said:

    Good webinar, Kristin. We’ll see if that changes after you or Sarah have, ah, “reviewed” my pitch paragraph! 😉 (Seriously, putting it together will be a good exercise and I’m looking forward to your feedback.)

    I was concerned I was going to just hear things I’d heard at writers’ conferences before but that was mostly not true. In fact, once the webinar is in the WD archives, I’m thinking about replaying it for my writer’s group. Most of them are NOT SF/F writers but much of what you covered (especially the “catalyst event”) will be valuable to them as they prepare their queries.

    My only gripe is that the audio kept dropping out. That’s not your fault. It got better after I killed Outlook and Skype but I haven’t experienced that problem with other GoToMeeting webinars I’ve attended. Something for the WD tech folks to look into, perhaps.

  22. Anonymous said:

    I paid for the webinar, though I wasn’t able to watch live. Paid workshops seem reasonable. It feels like a pricier version of WD’s how-to-write books, a cheaper alternative to full conferences, and a way to thank an agent who’s provided years of free advice on her blog.

    But including a query critique might cross, or at least press up against, the line into reading fees. Especially because of the WD marketing language: “Who knows, you might even get a request for sample pages out of it.” Yes, a critique that’s free or for charity also has the tantalizing potential for requested pages. It’s not the point of the critique, though. Spelling it out like that in the description felt a little sketchy.

    It might be safer to keep query critiques separate from paid workshops, to avoid even the appearance of letting writers think they’re paying for special consideration of their query. I say this knowing that it could make you slightly less willing to request sample pages from any of these revised queries, including mine.

  23. Natalie Aguirre said:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with adding a query critique with the seminar. It is extremely helpful and something many of us couldn’t otherwise receive. I doubt I’ll ever be at a conference with Kristen and am thrilled to get a query.

    The reality is when we go to conferences, like SCBWI conferences, where we hear speakers and have an opportunity to be critiqued by an editor or agent, we pay for the conference and there is a small fee for the critique. I don’t have any problem with it or with the critique being included in the fee here. I would not recommend making payment for the critique separate.

    Agents are busy and I am sure from reading Mary Kole’s blog that some are struggling financially like us when they start out. (Not Kristen.) When they offer a service like this, there’s nothing wrong with there being a charge and in fact there should be one. It’s totally different from an unethical agent who charges you when you query them.

  24. Amy Gentry said:


    I thought the webinar had a lot of quality information for the sf&f author. I appreciated that you showed both ‘What To Do’ and ‘What Not To Do’.

    The other item I wanted to comment on was number one in your Thumbs neutral section. I think you could get more interaction from the audience, but it depends on whether GoToWebinar has the functionality. For my day job I use WebEx, a program similar to GoToWebinar. I rely on non-verbal indicators to gauge knowledge transfer.

    One of the items I use is called Polling. If GoToWebinar has a Polling feature this would allow you to pre-make multipule choice questions to ask during the session. You might poll the audience with, “What best describes your genre?” Adult fantasy. Adult Sci-Fi. YA Fantasy. Etc. After the audience selects their answer you would have the instance results on your screen as the webinar host. This might help if you wanted to tailor a section of the session to majority of your audience’s preferance.

    The other feature I have my particpants use is a green check mark (for yes) and red X (for no). This allows me to take the tempature of the group while keeping them on mute.

    I saw a raise hand button on my webinar screen, but I didn’t see any other buttons that would have allowed this type of interaction. Maybe Chuck would know.

    I hope agents and editors plan to do more of this type of specialized instruction. It is rare that an entire conference pertains to me and my process. If I had ala carte selections via webinar that is money well spent.

  25. Jill said:

    On the question of whether agents should charge for this kind of thing:

    I don’t know the specifics of how this webinar was set up, but it seems like WD charged a fee for their considerable tech and administrative support.

    That sort of fee seems very reasonable. But if an agent were to charge a fee for their expertise (as opposed to cover the costs of conducting the webinar), I would really need an explanation as to how that’s not a reading fee.

    BTW: In reading this blog, I’ve always seen Kristin to be above reproach. I’m always so interested when Kristin brings up these ethical issues.

  26. Courtney said:

    Hi Kristen,

    I thought your presentation was great. You had plenty to say and I had three “a-ha!” moments, even though I’ve read through a ton of agent’s blogs…there is still more to learn.

    The fee was much better than $350 I paid just to attend my local writer’s conference — and that was even a bargain since I didn’t have hotel+eating costs since I live in the same city.

    My only thumbs down has nothing to do with you; I want to rework my pitch para. and look at your examples while I work on it, rather than relying on my memory. But, if we can’t get the slides until Wednesday, that doesn’t give me much time.

    As to your worry that you couldn’t gauge our reaction via this format, don’t worry. You presented a clear, easy-to-understand message. Thanks again for the opportunity.

  27. Anonymous said:

    I took the webinar and – Wow! The content was amazing, a clear and unique method for constructing SF/F queries that is a better explanation of pitch paragraphs than I have ever seen at any conference or on any blog.

    I also learned that the 6-8 hours that I have spent on each query researching an agent, agonizing over whether or not I am contacting the correct one, and trying to write the perfect personalized paragraph, is a waste of time.

    Did I hesitate about paying? Yes, because it did feel a little bit like paying to have my pitch read. But I felt like I had run out of options. I have pages that editors have told me they liked (at conference critiques) but I really wanted to get an agent as the first step. I have had my query letters critiqued and taken query classes by other writers. I still get rejections with no useful feedback.

    Do I think the paid fee is being abused in this case with a highly ethical agent? No. Do I think it could be abused? Yes. And I’m afraid that where we are heading is people are going to either have to pay to get their queries read or pay someone to write their query. I don’t like it, but I don’t know what the answer is.

  28. Nicole said:

    I attended the webinar – it was great! Not only did I get a lot of good insight into crafting my fantasy query, I also got a better feel for your approach to agenting. Very cool!

    I didn’t mind paying the fee. Truthfully, the most valuable part was hearing your take on things. Most of the slide content itself can be found in your blog entries, too. So that’s something to keep in mind for anyone who didn’t get a chance to attend.

  29. Allison B. said:

    After paying for the webinar, I was a little concerned that I may have wasted my money and wouldn’t learn anything new, but I found Kristin’s insights invaluable. I especially appreciated the opportunity to look at author query letters, and the invitation to submit our pitches for critique even if we haven’t finished the novel yet.

    Thanks for a great webinar, Kristin.

  30. Vicky said:

    I missed your webinar, but had to respond because I’ve done webinars for more than a decade in my marketing career. In the beginning, most presenters feel uncomfortable because they’re unable to see facial reactions. But in a large corporation, the ability to reach much larger audiences scattered literally across the globe is more important than this one drawback. Certainly your ability to reach a much larger audience is advantageous to you and especially to writers.

    One suggestion, and I can’t recall if you did this, is to take questions in advance. That way both you and the audience members have time to think carefully about the questions and responses, respectively.

  31. B. Jenne' Hall said:

    I found the webinar to be well worth it and I was happy to pay the fee. Obviously, the opportunity to submit a pitch paragraph for critique from a professional (and from my “dream” agent, to boot!) is one not to be missed, but the webinar itself was just as valuable to me. Some of if was information I’d already learned from reading and researching about query letters, but not all of it. (And even with information that wasn’t new to me, having it presented in that format pulled it together in a way that was very helpful.)

    But it was the SF&F focus that made it especially invaluable to me and well worth the fee. Addressing query questions and challenges that are specific to the genre was something I’ve really needed and as you pointed out in your introduction, the sf&f world just isn’t as organized about this kind of thing as other genres seem to be. There are conferences, of course, but as others have said, that isn’t something I can do readily and it costs considerably more.

    I agree that it could’ve been a little longer so you could answer more questions, and I would’ve really appreciated your idea of reviewing a couple of pitches from volunteers during the webinar, but I’m very pleased with what I got out of it. I’d definitely do more of this kind of thing in the future.

  32. Jason said:

    Since we’re in a pub I’ll give you my rant:

    You spent too much time going over examples. Yes, yes, I know examples are how we learn…but we will be given access to the powerpoint later on, and that access goes for a year, so a bit more work on the slides and they would be very, very useful reference material.

    What I mean by that is just some notes on the slides highlighting some of the text and saying that you liked this part, or this part wasn’t your favorite, or this part here would make you hit your form rejection email button, that sort of thing.

    That way, you could just talk about the highlighted parts and not have to read the whole thing. 🙂

    Another thing…it would be very useful to go over more negative examples. Have a brave soul submit his or her CURRENT query paragraph to you and you could point out what you like and what you don’t like. Or have several students send in their queries in advance so that you can pick one that will be educational without being too embarrassing! 🙂 Then let them revise and send it in to you during the webinar and let the class see the improvement.

    While it would be embarrassing, I would jump at that opportunity, because while I would get publicly humiliated, I’d also get your advice twice–once on the webinar and once when I queried you later.

    But anyway, I did enjoy the presentation and I believe it was worth the price of admission. Thanks for your time and wisdom.

  33. Kathryn said:

    I could not attend the live session due to my work schedule and was disappointed to hear I would not have access to anything until this Wednesday. Also, when I emailed the WD, I was not given any instructions on submitting my revised pitch to you. This is definitely something WD should have passed along. I’m glad I checked your blog, otherwise I wouldn’t have known the timeliness of our critique submissions!

    As for paying for the workshop/critique, I find this situation no different than attending a conference and paying for a critique there. What sold me is the fact this workshop is tailored to SF/F. I’ve been to several writing conferences and it’s rare to find workshops specifically for this genre. I’m looking forward to accessing the presentation this week and hope you will consider extending the deadline for pitch submissions due to the delayed archive access.

  34. Marie Andreas said:

    I took the day off from work for the webinar, and I’m glad I did. 🙂

    Kristin- you were very professional and I had no idea this was your first webinar as you seemed very “at home”.

    The time was far far too short though, and I agree not having interaction face to face does weaken things a bit.

    I also would have loved to have seen a real pitch blurb being “taken apart” in front of us 😉 (not sure how the tech would work on that).

    As for paying agent for seminars/workshops….hmmmm…things like this webinar were one thing, but paying an agent at a conference a separate fee? That’s a slippery slope that could get ugly real fast.

    Thank you again for doing this Kristin, and your comments about no support system (like RWA, Sisters in Crime) for us F/SF authors was spot on- and is the reason I’ve been in the RWA the last few years. Even if you don’t write romance- it is a GREAT support system ;). Good writing is good writing regardless of genre.

    Thanks again!

  35. Kristi Helvig said:

    Kristin-I think this webinar was a great idea. Having a three-year-old underfoot prohibited my attendance this time, but I’d definitely attend in the future. 🙂

  36. Jen said:

    I, like a few others here, paid for the webinar knowing I could access it later. However, I was greatly disappointed when I learned from Chuck that I wouldn’t be able to access it until this coming Wednesday and revised pitches are due Friday. Again, not your fault. I put blame on the vendor hosting the webinar – it makes no sense not to have this information available immediately. I attended another webinar on 9/23 and I’m still not able to access the information. For these reasons only, I will hesitate on attending another session.

    I think agents hosting a webinar is a great idea because we are able to hear first-hand how the “machine” works. I agree it could get shady with the critiques, but if there are no claims of guaranteed representation, then no harm, no foul.

    Thanks for letting me vent! BTW, love your blog!


  37. Selene said:

    Paying agents to review work is a bit squicky, IMO (I thought AAR didn’t allow it?). I could understand if there was a nominal fee, for the cost of setting up the webinar and so forth, but close to 90$ per person? If 100 people participated, that’s 9,000$! Not exactly cost price.

  38. Cat said:

    I think it is ok for an agent to do webinars like this. The information is great (depending a little on the agent) and the critique makes it even better. The only point I’d like to argue with is the price. I know that server-capacities, tech-support, software licenses AND the presenter all cost money, but I found nearly 80 USD hard to come by. Especially for those who haven’t got secure jobs under their belt, the course is too expensive. I think Writer’s Digfest should review the calculation.

  39. Jim Johnson said:

    I attended the webinar and felt it delivered a lot of value for the price. It was far less expensive than going to a conference, and took up less time as well. I posted some comments on my blog about it, but overall, I found it worthwhile.

    It would have been nice to be able to print out the slide stack, or download it right away, rather than wait until Wednesday, esp. for those of us revising pitch paragraphs. Some back and forth Q&A would have been nice as well, but I think the format of the webinar required it to be more of an info dump than a panel-like Q&A.

    I’d probably pay for something like this at a convention, depending on who was doing it, and if there were takeaway handouts and an opportunity to get a brief critique on a pitch paragraph.

    While I agree with an above poster that money should flow to the writer, I believe it’s also often useful to occasionally pay for professional business advice, workshops, reviews, classes, and the like. In this case, a professional literary agent was offering specific advice to address an identified need–the lack of effective queries in the sf/f genre. (Though I’d have to say that much of the information in the webinar could apply to most any fiction query.)

    Thanks very much to Kristin for taking the time to run the event.

    PS–for anyone interested in the webinar contents, I emailed WD last week and they mentioned that the webinar may be available for sale off their website at some point, possibly at a lower price point than the original registration fee.

  40. Anonymous said:

    I think it’s a bit unbecoming for someone in Kristin’s position to profit off wannabes, although I dont think I’d go so far as to call it unethical.

  41. Anonymous said:

    I don’t know who profited from the webinar–Kristin or Writer’s Digest. Someone mentioned 200 registrants. If so, I’d say whoever took the bigger part of the profits are definitely taking advantage of wannabes. The price is outrageous! Servers, setup and what not doesn’t cost a fraction of the 89$ or whatever it was per participant. (I know–I work for a company who sometimes does webinars, albeit in a totally different business.)

    You can’t compare it to a conference either–there you get to mingle with lots of publishing professionals, pitch multiple agents, and take several workshops. Not to mention that the organizers have significantly higher costs too.

  42. The Invisible Writer said:

    Please do this again!!!!

    I couldn’t attend and may not be able to next time either BUT I would love to!

    I think agents and editors don’t realize how much extra cash they could earn by being more approachable like this. Of course, you all are very busy so finding the time to work in a workshop is probably very hard – but oh-so encouraging to me.

    Hopefully I can attend next time!

  43. Dondi Ratliff said:


    I attended your webinar and have to say that I learned quite a bit! I know the information is available for up to a year (but not until Wednesday); however, I had a question regarding the pitches that get sent.

    I sent mine in this morning before work so that you could have it in queue to look at. I’ve already gotten a response! It’s a form-letter rejection, though.

    I don’t particularly mind that, but given I had the pitch in the body, with my name, the title, the word count, and the genre, plus the subject line of the email talking about the critique you’d offered, I can’t figure out why I got such a hasty reply without information? It had everything in it that had been requested, I’m sure.

    I suppose my question is related to those who are or who will be sending their pitches in today and such: was that a mistake or electronic response for the moment, and should I resend the pitch email? (I’m also wondering if anyone else had this happen to them yet.) I don’t want to clog your email inbox up with repeated mails when there are so many people who are responding!

    Best wishes,
    D. Ratliff

  44. Elizabeth Poole said:


    I thought your webinar was very informative and helpful. You really shed some light on tackling the art of query letter writing. I thought the critique was an extra bonus to the program. I too wished it was a little longer, and you had more time to answer some questions.

    Great job!

  45. RK said:

    I attended and loved it!

    While I did miss the face-to-face, real-time interaction and opportunity to ask questions (couldn’t help noticing a lot of the same questions seemed to be clogging up the line), the information you presented was valuable. Also, I was less nervous attending a webinar than I’d be meeting Kristin in person. 🙂

    I’ve heard some of the info before, but it was just presented in a way –a Kristin way–that made a light bulb go off in my head. 🙂 So thank you for sharing your insights and taking the time to do this.

    Would I attend another such event? Yes.

  46. Jason said:

    another thought occurred to me last night: for $89, Kristin, the people who were feeding you questions to answer at the end did a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE job.

    You should not have gotten the same basic question 4 or 5 times. It takes only a moment to glance over and see if a question has already been answered…you could have answered twice as many questions in 20 minutes if you hadn’t had to repeat yourself so much.

  47. mdal said:

    The webinar was excellent. I’ve been reading and studying query material for awhile, and I still got new and helpful info out of this. I would attend one on another useful topic in a heartbeat.

    I seem to be in the minority in my feeling that $89 is a bargain for a webinar with a real industry pro, let alone one that includes a pitch critique. I guess value is relative.

  48. Alisha said:

    I enjoyed the webinar. It was my first and especially rewarding since I have been deprived of attending Cons this year by an exhausting pregnancy. 🙂

    I have paid for other classes and it always makes me steaming mad when I feel I wasted my money. This was definitely NOT one of those cases. It was very well done and informative. The best part of the webinar was the step by step process for writing the pitch paragraph.

    As for charging for the webinar, I don’t have a problem with it. I can see where charging money for a critique could easily slide into one of those businesses that prey upon aspiring writers. However, since this webinar was backed by a respected organization and taught by a legitimate agent whose income is not dependent on fees from this webinar, the fee is not suspicious.

    I was surprised to hear at the end that the presentation would not be available until Wednesday. At the beginning, we were told it was not necessary to take notes, but I did anyway and I was really glad I did. Now I can refer to my notes while I work on my pitch. I feel for those people who do not have notes to refer to. If you ever do this again, that would be an area for improvement.

    The only other improvement I can suggest is on the samples, highlight and define the different portions of the pitches. If this is something that could be done before the webinar is posted on Wednesday. I know I would really appreciate it! Even though I was able to take pretty good notes, there was no way I could have written out the whole pitch and marked the different sentences.

  49. Chuck Sambuchino said:


    Hey everyone – Chuck here with WD. We are EXTENDING THE DEADLINE to get your pitches in to Kristin.

    The package (archived presentation & such) will not be e-mailed out until Wednesday. The new final deadline to get pitches in is end of day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. (It was previously Oct. 8, but a few people communicated to us that this was not enough time, and we were listening: @Jen, @Kathryn & others.)

  50. Jen Zeman said:

    @ Chuck – THANK YOU!!!! You made my day!! And thanks to Kristin as well!

    BTW, my gripe about the vendor is with GoToWebinars, not WD. 🙂


  51. Anonymous said:

    I think agent webinar’s are a great way to provide access to information normally only available at conferences, which not every aspiring author has the means or time to attend. FYI – Mary Kole hosted one last with week with the inclusion of a critique (2 pages or 500 words of MS).

    Here’s my take on the ethical issue (and I’m an attorney): If the webinar is very clear that the fee is for the webinar & information presented, and a pitch and/or page critique is merely part of the offering and there is NO promise of anything more, there isn’t a problem. I think all paying participants realize the webinar is the cake, and the pitch/page critique is just icing. A great opportunity for honest agent feedback, nothing more, no expectation of a partial or full request to follow (especially in this era of form rejections it’s nice to get something concrete). Both Kristin & Mary are top notch agents, with reps of great integrity. My only worry after reading these other comments is the negative perception. I’d hate for some of the best agents in the business to have an appearance of impropriety, even if everything is totally above board.

  52. Heian said:

    I was there and very impressed at
    1. how easy it was to use. I had never been at one and was nervous at first about how to get in etc.
    2. I think it felt much more personal than other workshops,for the most part
    3.I was really impressed at how at ease you sounded. There would be no way to know this was your first time
    4. I have attended many, many workshops both through conferences and online and I was very impressed with both the amount of information you provided and the excellent organization which made it very easy to follow and understand.

    The reality is that some workshops in both forms (conference and online) some are a disappointment. You were very clear in your explanation of what you were planning to do and I thought you did it well.
    In truth, an hour and a half is not long for a good workshop and I think the amount of information you were covering was logical for the amount of time there was. No that I wouldn’t have loved two hours.

    Any good workshop makes the participant want more and more time, more than is ever going to be possible.

    As for the payment, I don’t think those who would be uncomfortable with it are used to the form workshops take. There are courses which are primarily offered through romance sites offering excellent workshops either through yahoo or the site of the group.
    They are always for pay.
    Many are for much more money.

    I can’t imagine that anyone who knows anything about writing and publishing would think that for under $90 they could ‘buy’ an agent.

    Of course, there are always the frauds but they don’t have to offer a workshop. Unfortunately, just the offer to ‘fix’ a ms brings in money. No agent, editor, or writer can be responsible for the naive or less than experience writer who won’t do research and find out who and what to avoid. With the internet, RWA chapters, Mystery Writers groups, and Sisters in Crimes scattered either in chapters in your area and online, there is information out there and really no excuse for being taken advantage of. The smallest search could tell you that the Nelson agency is very well respected.
    I would have signed up without a critique because it is rare that I have seen a place where it was possible to find out exactly what an agent was looking for in detail and I do believe anyone following these guidelines would improve any query letter either to an agent or editor. Page

  53. Anonymous said:

    Page said: “As for the payment, I don’t think those who would be uncomfortable with it are used to the form workshops take.”

    Wrong. I have been to many workshops and conferences and I’m still against charging $90 a person for something like this with an agent, especially when it’s advertised with the suggestion that you might get asked to query. As the other poster said, if 200 people did it, that is $18,000 for 1 1/2 hours?

    And then where does it lead? The agent withholds information on her website about the current state of SFF because she has to keep it for the next webinar?

    I think it looks shady and that quality agents should think seriously about this because their reputation is everything.

  54. Stella said:

    What about paying $35 for a critique from an agent, author or editor at a converence? Does that seem iffy to you? I think they are about the same, perfectly acceptable, and fairly common even for top flight, thoroughly respectable and respected professionals. At a conference,as here, there is a glimmer of a possibility that the agent/editor will like what they read and ask for a formal submission. And I suspect too that Writers Digest and gotomeeting take a sizable chunk of that $18K. And Kristin said during the webinar that they were expecting about 50 participants ($4,450). And I think Kristin’s reputation is pretty much unassailable.

  55. larryhutson said:

    I purchased this webinar for two reasons. One, for the content of the actual course, and two, to have an agent look at my query and give it a critique. I want my query to knock agent’s socks off. I’ve passed it through multiple critique circles, getting contradictory advice each time. Now, I have concrete feedback to strengthen my query.

    I think anyone who purchased this webinar with the thought that it would give them a leg up on the other authors out there in the agent’s eyes is fooling themselves. Querying isn’t like being in class where things are graded on a curve.

    And, it’s not a competition. I don’t have to beat out other people to get my work in front of an agent. I have to beat the agent’s expectations of what makes a query worthy of seeing more of the novel.

    You could buy an agent a Corvette, but it’s not going to make your manuscript any more interesting to the editors at the publishing houses.

  56. hedgerow said:

    I found the information in the webinar (why does that word make me cringe?) invaluable. And, this may sound goofy, but it was nice to hear an agent be so human and funny. As a new writer, it’s easy to get intimidated by the prospect of querying. Thanks for helping to take some of the mystery and anxiety out of the process.

    Now, I must go gather herbs in the forest.

  57. Anonymous said:

    I attended the webinar (from the other side of the world – a 3am start for me, so no office distractions!)

    I thought the advice was excellent, but no different to the advice you can get from, say, Queryshark. For me, the thing that made it worth paying for was the critique of the pitch paragraph, which I have already received, and which was comprehensive and invaluable.

    For people who wonder what’s the difference between sending the query this way and simply querying the agency, the difference is that it’s a bona fide CRITIQUE, not a form “this is not for us.” What an agent owes you for free is a YES or NO. I needed more than that.

    Could it have been cheaper? Certainly. But it isn’t an agent’s job to teach writers how to write queries, so it’s fair to charge more for something that you perhaps don’t enjoy doing. If she got 200 takers for $90, imagine how many queries she’d be critiquing if it had been $15.

    There are so many people out there willing to take your money for a manuscript assessment when the manuscripts are not even getting looked at. I think this was better value, and it was very professionally run.

  58. Anonymous said:

    I was able to view the archived version yesterday. I thought it was excellent, thanks so much for making this available!

    As for the ethics of charging for a class, I don’t see this as any different from my taking a class from any expert and submitting homework for feedback. It’s the same as taking a class from a professor and having my term paper graded. I take continuing professional education all the time.

    As for the total cost, it’s not just the expense of hosting a webinar involved here, or even developing the class (I’ve taught a few classes, and I’m amazed at how much time it takes to get ready for even a short class). Critiquing all these queries is going to take a lot of time, way more than just sending the form letter we’d likely get if we sent our queries in as they are, and more time than a verbal critique at a conference.

    So I’m completely fine with it. Other than, yes, it needed to be longer. ^_^


  59. Jim Johnson said:

    If you attended the webinar, you should have received an email with a link to the archived version. If you didn’t receive that email, I think WD has contact info on their website.

    If you didn’t attend the webinar, I noted that the materials are available on WD’s site at the same price as the original registration. It’ll give you access to the material for a year.

    Hope this helps.

  60. Anonymous said:

    If you are looking for the archived version – registered participants got an email with instructions on how to access it last Wednesday.

  61. Kevin said:

    I sent in my pitch paragraph for the critique and got a standard rejection email the next day. Did anyone else have this happen?

  62. Anonymous said:

    I think the pitches should be sent to a separate email apart from the regular queries.

    I just received a form rejection and no crit, despite following directions.

    I understand my email was likely buried under a mountain of queries. I just think there needs to be better separation.

  63. Agent Kristin said:

    Kevin and Anonymous,
    We apologize for the mishaps with the Webinar pitch critiques. I’m sure you’ve resent already but if you haven’t, please resend and we’ll get that critique to you!

    Quite frankly, we thought we’d only receive about 50 pitches to critique. With 200, there was just more room for mishap. Sorry about that!

  64. Rebecca LuElla Miller said:

    I hoped to participate in your webinar, Kristin, but because of tech deficiencies, I was not able to.

    I see nothing wrong with agents teaching, whether in person or online. Clearly the instruction and query critique were not requirements for writers to get their work to you. As an earlier commenter said, the query could accurately be viewed as homework.

    Over and over we’ve been told to beware of agents charging a reader fee. Teaching a webinar is something entirely different, and writers ought to be discerning enough to tell the difference!

    As to the money, I’m glad it was lucrative for those putting it on because that means there may be more of like kind.

    I don’t think people who believed you made a killing realize that other people needed to get paid, too–like the tech guy you said was with you the whole time. And that it wasn’t “just” an hour and a half of your time.

    I can’t help but think that 200 writers participated instead of the 50 you expected in part because of the free advice you give out regularly here on your blog. You’ve built a trusted following, so what you made is still probably less than what you deserve.

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