Pub Rants

Conferences On My Mind

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STATUS: I’m good but I can’t figure out why. I managed to just cross one thing of my list. It should have been a more productive day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT by Nirvana

I have conferences on the mind. I’m doing two in March out on the East Coast around a New York trip and then, of course, you have to prepare for RWA months in advance. Even though the conference isn’t until July, everything has to be done now for the registration/hotel and the workshops.

I’m so proud of myself though. I even updated my handouts and got those sent in. Mark that off my list.

But this put me in mind of my announcement yesterday that I signed a new client because I met her at a conference.

It’s the second client I’ve signed via that medium. And yes I realize that’s not an impressive sign-a-client-from-a-conference record but I do think that number will rise in the future.

I’m already impressed with the number of queries I receive where the writer mentions he/she met me a conference.

I also pay closer attention to those queries. Honest truth and even if the project isn’t a perfect fit for me, I’ll often give that writer a chance and ask for sample pages.

Call it a benefit of taking the time, effort, and spending the money to attend a conference. Not to mention, having the guts to come up and meet me… As long as I don’t have any horrible memory of that meeting (and trust me that has happened and I do take notes), then I’m usually game to be a little more flexible and open to seeing pages.

So if you have conferences on your mind and plan to attend one, take the time to go and meet the agents. If you can swing a social situation, all the better.

The client I signed yesterday came out with a group of authors and agents for an après conference aperitif (translation: a drink).

She was fun, normal, social, and didn’t push her work. She remembered me and I remembered her and boom, she is now a client.

Either way, you might learn more about the biz, about agents as people, and just how to be more comfortable in a publishing but social environment,

So go for it.

18 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Call it a benefit of taking the time, effort, and spending the money to attend a conference.

    This brings to mind an incident quite a few years ago when I had an appointment at a conference with an agent. My husband lost his job a few weeks prior to the conference so I had to withdraw and get a partial refund.

    I wrote to the agent in question explained, situation and asked if I could send a sample of the project I wanted to discuss. Her reply was If someone can’t be bothered to spend the time and effort to meet with me as scheduled I can’t take time to review their work.

  2. Anonymous said:

    it is nice to hear your thoughts on this subject, however… I am new to this submitting business and confrences seem to be for…ya know… ‘real writers’. I know this is just a mental block on my part, but what percentage of writers at these confrences are newbies? Would it be a waist of money to attend if I am new to all of this? Should there be at least one publishing credit under my belt before I get in there and ask for time?
    Just thought I would ask…

  3. katiesandwich said:

    Anon #1: Wow. That agent is a jerk. She could have just said no.

    Anon #2: In my experience, most people who attend conferences are new writers.

    I love conferences. It’s so cool to be around so many people who understand what it’s like to be kept awake at night wondering whether they should use the word “would” or “could” in that sentence on page 124.

    Congrats to you and the new client, BTW.

  4. Jennifer said:


    Can you tell us what happens during a 10-minute pitch session at a conference? Better yet, can you tell us what you’d like to have happen at a 10-minute pitch session at a conference?

  5. Kim said:

    I’m in total agreement about conferences. I went to my first one in October (for my local RWA chapter) and it was so great to be surrounded by people who love writing as much as I do. Unfortunately, I didn’t score an appointment with an agent and I need to work on being ballsy enough to approach anyone (it’s a fine line between a drink to loosen one’s tongue and the drink that makes it too loose).

    Something to strive for at next year’s conference!

    PS. I’m with Jennifer – any secrets we should know???

  6. Linda said:

    Anon 1–I’m surprised at that agent’s attitude. I’ve run the pitch sessions at two conferences, and we always end up with scheduling snafus and someone showing up late. All of the agents have been very accommodating–no one got turned away. We even had one agent that had to cancel due to a personal emergency, and another took all her pitch sessions in addition to his own so the writers could see an agent.

    It sounds like you’re probably better not with that agent anyway.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I appreciate your thoughts on attending conferences, but if I may so say, not everyone who’s writing is worthwhile has the time or means to attend them.

    I care for an elderly relative 24/7. Just going to the store requires getting a “sitter.” I can’t imagine trying to go somewhere out of state for days and nights at a time.

    And then there’s the matter of the cost. I’m not working, so I can stay home and take care of my loved one instead of putting him in a home, and that means money’s tight. That’s my choice, but I’d really hate to think I might be taken less seriously as a writer, and my query not get the same careful attention, just because I’m not out schmoozing. I tend to think what I’m doing here at home is important too.

    There’s no ire behind this post – in case you might be thinking that – I’m just making some observations here.

    Thanks for listening.

  8. Poor Struggler said:

    Anon 7:21 (sounds like a biblical passage),
    It may help you to know that I have never attended any conferences at all, and I have sold 3 novels to major publishers. The first was sold through plain old snail mail querying 7 years ago. It’s certainly not a necessity to attend conferences, and I don’t think Kristin was saying that anyway. It’s simply an option for some people.

  9. Anonymous said:

    “Not to mention, having the guts to come up and meet me…”

    Some might say that boarderlines presumptuous. But I’m sure it comes with sweetness and sugar.

  10. Philippa said:

    Hi. I am one of those who can’t usually get to conferences etc. I am on a very low income, and I have a disability which makes it difficult for me to stand for long periods of time, as one is normally expected to do at these events. If I go I spend far more money than I have and I know I do not create a good impression as I am usually functioning in the last stages of exhaustion.
    I have published stories and poems for children and adults over the years, many in national publications, and also done a bit of journalism, and taught poetry and fiction writing in schools. In spite of that I have never succeeded in crossing the bridge to publishing novels. I can’t help wondering if the reason is a combination of my poverty and my disability. Philippa.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Doesn’t it seem desperate to travel some far distance and try to browbeat some poor agent into reading your first novel? I would think it would be awkward to say in a query letter, “Hi, it’s me, that delusional young woman with the novel about a girl who goes into a cottage and gets accosted by three bears. May I send samples? And Kristin’s like, “Sure, if I met you in person, please send me this crap so I can reject it and get on with my real client’s books.”

  12. Anonymous said:

    To Philippa:

    It’s none of my business, but there are different ways to view conferences. First, no one goes to a conference for fun…not agent or writer…there’s always an underlying reason. For personal gain they are wonderful for writers, if you have the time, means and patience to deal with them. If you’re an agent on the rise, it’s a way to network and get your name out there in a business where no one really cares who you are until you’ve sold something really spectacular. I don’t think any of the things you mentioned in your comment have anything to do with not crossing over to novels. It’s just something you have to stick with, and polish and work on until you get it right. I know you said you’re disabled, and that’s rough, but you don’t even need legs to write a good book. Best of luck.

  13. KRStagliano said:

    This is encouraging! I met an agent at Backspace who read my partial, made edit suggestions, read my full, made detailed editorial comments throughout the full and is now waiting for me to implement the edits. I hope he’ll offer to represent me. I am so much more relaxed and myself with him having MET him and spoken a couple of times. Also, two agents with Grade A reputations completely turned me OFF at Backspace so I crossed them off my wish list. Backspace was the best $165 I’ve ever spent on myself!

  14. katiesandwich said:

    “I am so much more relaxed and myself with him having MET him and spoken a couple of times. Also, two agents with Grade A reputations completely turned me OFF…”

    Yeah, that’s another cool thing about conferences. Actually, I did a blog post about this here if anyone’s interested. I didn’t meet any agents who turned me off, but I did meet an agent and on talking to him found out that he wouldn’t be right for my work after all. And from that conference, I got a referal and a request for a query when I finish the novel.

    And for those who can’t afford a conference, some of them need volunteers. Volunteers usually get in free (to the best of my knowledge), and still get to listen to all the talks and meet with agents and editors. I volunteered for the next conference I want to go to. I won’t know if they’re going to need me yet, but if they do, I only have to pay for my hotel and gas. So if you’d like to go to a conference, you might still be able to. I’d recommend at least looking into it.

  15. scott said:

    I agree travelling to a conference or book convention is a great way to meet editors and publishers.

    I went a book convention in Spain and
    showed my artwork to lots of editors and was turned away by all except one man.

    Four years later My first Graphic Novel was published in Spain.

    I´m Irish and now I can speak Spanish really well but then I was very bad at Spanish.

    First impressions last and I guess the editor and I clicked somehow.

    I was also told that his publishing house did graphic novels about fantastic journies and that was what my small book was about.

    So after years of patience and making it better and better it finally happened.

    So You must keep trying and be enthusiastic and work hard.


  16. PL Logan said:

    People don’t go to have fun? Hmm. Well, I’m going to a conference in June and I intend to have fun. I have nothing ready to send out yet, but it’ll be nice to meet people.