Pub Rants

The Glaze Effect

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STATUS: First day back in the office is always a mess of paperwork that needs to be handled. And aren’t we supposed to be a paper-free office? Ah, the irony

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OUR LIPS ARE SEALED by The Fun Boy Three

As many of you know, I was at the New England Chapter of RWA writers’ conference this weekend. What a good time. I got to hang out with four of my clients (two of which I met for the very first time) and my good agent pal Deidre Knight (whose terrific third book in her series comes out tomorrow—PARALLEL SEDUCTION. I’ve got my copy. Can you say the same?)

Also managed to live through a whole morning of pitches! Actually, I’m kidding. One of the things I love about RWA is how well they educate and help new writers. Our queries from RWA members are always pretty top-notch.

But I did glean one insight I wouldn’t mind sharing with the general populace when it comes to pitching in person at a conference.

Some writers would like to have their written pitch in front of them because the whole concept (and the doing of) the pitch can be nerve-wracking—despite my best efforts to put the writers at ease.

So, here’s my tip. I’m fine with the written pitch if that’s what makes you comfortable. My only suggestion? Make it short and sweet. It shouldn’t be the whole query letter—just a short pitch paragraph that shouldn’t take you more than a minute (maybe 2) tops.

Why? Because of the Glaze Effect. Despite my best efforts, it can be hard to concentrate when someone is reading to me—especially after the tenth pitch of the morning. My eyes get that glazed expression. I’m sure I’m not the only agent to start daydreaming by accident during a pitch—and that’s not what you want.

So it’s okay to read. Just make your pitch paragraph a short and punchy one. I’ll still ask questions and get more details about the story; I promise.

Now for some fun shots.

Here I am with my authors. From left: Marianne Mancusi, Becky Motew, Me, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Jennifer O’Connell

At then at the Costume party! Jennifer is her character Lauren from DRESS REHEARSAL, then there is the lame me as a character from ENCHANTED, INC. who wore Shanna’s frog prince brooch and claimed that nobody could see my fairy wings, Hank in a Tiara, and Marianne as goth girl Rayne from her young adult novel STAKE THAT!

30 Responses

  1. Tracy said:

    The NEC Conference was fantastic and I’ve been telling everyone how amazing Kristin’s equery workshop was. I learned a lot — thanks, Kristin!

  2. 2readornot said:

    These are fun to see — I’m really looking forward to the PPWC in a couple of weeks 🙂

  3. nvk said:

    i was at the new england conferene and i found you very hard to socialize with. you were either with your clients or you were no where in site. i come to conferences to meet editors and agents in the bars or at meals and you seemed to stay far away from the attendees. when i tried to come up to you at dinner, i was told it was a “clients only” table and was basically turned away. i pitched to another agent because i couldn’t get an appointment with you. it just seemed you were too, i dn’t know, unreachable. i hope to see you at another onference where your not so focused on the people you’ve already signed and might have more time for the people with fresh new ideas.


  4. Tracy said:

    Nvk — really? I found Kristin very easy to approach and very friendly when I did. Of course, she is going to want to talk with her clients, because often, conferences are the only place they get to see each other.

    That being said, I talked to her on Friday night, Saturday right before lunch, and again at her workshop. Each time she was absolutely terrific. And, I saw her several other times talking to various attendees. Maybe you just weren’t in the same places at the same time?

  5. Jana DeLeon said:

    nvk – Are you implying that her existing clients DON’T have fresh new ideas????? Hmmmmmm, statements like that will probably get Kristin’s attention but perhaps not in the way you’d like.

  6. Hank Phillippi Ryan said:

    What a fantastic conference! Everyone learned a lot, and had a great time devouring the chocolate buffet, trying new wines, and spending a lot of money buying the wonderful new books of fellow authors to raise money for literacy.
    Saturday afternoon after the conference? Zonked. Lots of energy, lots of adrenaline,lots of inspiration. Very intense, because everyone is striving to be the best they can be. Lots of competition, but even more support.

    Looking back at those hilarious photos, though. We were supposed to dress as our fave romance character? I was thinking Miranda Priestly, and although she didn’t wear a tiara in the book, I’m sure she would have, if she had one. I did.
    But look at the first photo. The light fixture over my head? I don’t even need the tiara…
    And Kristin, I could see your fairy wings! Definitely.

  7. JDuncan said:

    Ah man, I’m jealous. My wife got to meet and shmooz with you and Dierdre and a few other folks as well. She’s good at that kind of thing. Really I think it takes a certain kind of skill to do the whole networking thing at a conference. That and a willingness/ability to be social. It’s probably a discussion all on its own. I’m hoping you’ll be at Nationals so I can do the same. At least I’m trying to be able to go. It would be great to be able to meet and greet with all those I read about here in the blogoshphere.

  8. Anonymous said:

    What I’ve done at conferences is type up the one-paragraph pitch in 14 point font and hand it to the agent to read. They’ve all seemed fine with that and it saves on eye-glazing.

  9. david sinclair said:

    I’m never one to sing too loudly the praise of agents and all who practice their art, but I can say this for Ms. Nelson; she is as approachable as an agent can possibly be.

    I suspect NVK might have had something tragically wrong with his/her appearance, something that cried out, “I’m crazy! A potential stalker! My book was written by my cat!” For a novelist pitching a finished book, the paragraph written above lacks polish and basic skill… agents can sense amateurs. In this business, you have to be a pro, even if you have nothing published.

    Socializing with agentry is a risky venture, friend. If they seek you out, fine. But following after them, trying to glom onto them in bars or at social events? A tragically bad idea… unless you are the definition of charm, you are more likely to come off as a nutcase, and worse, it is how you will be remembered. I’d rather be remembered by the quality of my work, rather than the soup stain on my dickie and the booger I didn’t know was hanging from my nose.

  10. Anonymous said:

    nvk, by fresh new ideas, do you perchance mean ideas like fresh new ways to mix homophones? Because sight isn’t site, no where isn’t nowhere, and your isn’t you’re.

  11. sally said:

    Boy, you’ve got to love all the folks who consistently bash anyone who has something potentially bad to say about Nelson.

    As always, this reminds me of those videos they show on the news. You know the ones: some teenage Latina is being inducted into some inner city gang, and all her “friends” gang up and pound her to paste, kicking the ever-loving shit out of her until she’s bleeding in the dust.

    nvk said something negative about Nelson, and it kind of ricochets and nicks her authors. What does everyone do? They jump up and blast poor, half illiterate nvk to smithereens.

    Listen up, Oh Writers & Readers of Romance Novels– you’re not such hot stuff, yourselves. Aside from being devotees of a crap genre, you are mean-spirited and close-minded. nvk is giving his or her view of an agent, not espousing belief in race war or burying nuclear waste in playgrounds.

    Oh, and before you all go to DEFCON three and launch your nukes at me, I made fun of romance as a genre to make a point… being mean to someone for the sake of being mean is a lousy thing to do. Leave nvk alone, and let him dislike Kristin, it’s his God-given right.

  12. Anonymous said:

    Hey! How come God gave nvk a right to be mean, but left me out?

    Is it because I’m an atheist?


  13. Anonymous said:


    Thanks for a great conference and a very informative workshop. I hope you, and all other RWA members, had much success.


  14. Celeste said:

    I didn’t pitch to you, but I got so much out of your e-query workshop. You are a fabulous teacher. (And I don’t feel it’s sucking up to give thanks where it is deserved. It’s just good manners!)


  15. Anonymous said:

    anon 2:00,

    Where was nvk mean? A bad writer, sure, but mean? It sounds as if she had a bad time at the conference, and is probably a very shy person who has problems dealing face to face with people.

    You’re not an atheist, you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

  16. Daryl Andrews said:


    Eye glazing is the same thing my kids accuse me of after hour number 2 of 7th grade math homework. Except mine happens with involuntary drooling and a viid imaginatin about Fiji.

    Glad your trip went well!

  17. Anonymous said:

    I feel really badly for nvk who just wanted to post his/her experience that contradicted what Kristin’s original post said. The pictures here highlight Kristin with her clients – which is fine – but nvk and maybe others felt slighted when they’d paid to try and have some interaction with an agent and didn’t get it. I was disturbed for poor nvk saying when he/she tried to come up to Kristin’s table at dinner he/she was told it was a “client only” table and turned away. Having been in a similar situation, I can see where nvk would feel hurt and not “worthy” of even a simple conversation. I don’t blame Kristin for wanting to spend time with her clients. However, still unpublished and aspiring authors attend conferenes as well and want to feel they have a chance with the gliterati as well. Perhaps something to be more conscious about in the future. Don’t attack someone for saying what they honestly felt. Typos can be forgive in a mere blogger post. Just don’t have them in your manuscript. 😉

  18. Elizabeth Wielding Fields said:

    I’m horrified by David Sinclair’s post here about someone who was brave enough to post their experience trying to network with Kristin. You have this person as some sort of socially inept psycho stalker. How dare you do that. I hope nvk met other agents at this conference and got some good pitching opportunities with them.

    Shame on all of you and your wolf pack mentality.

  19. sally said:

    Elizabeth Wielding Fields,

    Too many people feel it is their duty to protect and defend Kristin, and her opinions as well. nvk had a bad experience and had the balls to say something about it. The opinion is contradictory to Kristin’s stated methods of dealing with new writers, hence it was perceived by the regulars here in blogworld that it was an attack on Kristin’s virtuous postings.

    That is the recipe for the wolfpack mentality. Even Kristin’s authors jump into the fray. Notice Deleon stopping back to post little chuckles; she’s stopping back to make sure that no one’s going bananas on her agent, and to defend her if necessary.

    Just keep in mind that you aren’t really allowed to have an opinion here, dear. Just nod your head and repeat the mantra “Kristin’s great, Kristin’s my pal, Kristin’s the best agent in the world” and you’ll be fine. Toe the line, and ignore people who have negative experiences with the Goddess of Publishing.

  20. Rhonda Hall said:

    I don’t see anything wrong with an agent wanting to sit with her cleints at a conference. Afterall, she’s there to see new people and reconnect with those clients she already believes in. Everyone needs to get over it and let Kristin be Kristin. And I’m not an ass-kissing fan, I just think any agent should be able to associate with whomever he or she wants to. Everyone else grow up. It’s not a popularity contest.

  21. Jana DeLeon said:

    For the record – I wasn’t defending Kristin – she’s perfectly capable of defending herself. I was defending my own writing which I believe was indirectly referred to as “unfresh and old.”

  22. Anonymous said:

    I’m going to agree with both Rhonda and Jana. And I’m not kissing up…I have my own agent, thanks, whom I love exponentially. But I do admire Kristin’s blog and I read it daily.

    First of all, nvk did imply that Kristin’s clients didn’t supply anything that was “fresh and new.” Jana had every reason to be offended…it’s the first thing I thought when I read the comment. Why would nvk want to meet an agent whose client list she did not admire? Makes no sense to me.

    Secondly, if a conference goer pays for a conference, they are paying for the workshops. They are not paying to have access to editors and agents in social situations. If they think they are, they are sadly mistaken. That implies that the editor or agent is being paid in order to be available 24/7–and they are not. Meals and bar time are social time and they have no obligation to be accessible to anyone except the people they choose to be accessible to. They are not performing monkeys.

    In many cases, the agents and editors are PAYING to attend in one way or another, either in cash or in time. Sometimes, the conference waves fees and pays hotel and per diem, but not always. I have no idea how NEC operates, but the only guaranteed access an aspiring writer should expect is attendance at a workshop an editor or agent gives.

    I’ve been in this business for a long time and my advice to nvk is that next time, she should try to make friends with the clients of the agent she wants to meet. If she’s genuine, she might just get an introduction.

    That’s how I met my agent. Networking. Not by being pushy and insinuating myself into social situations where I had not been invited.

  23. Anonymous said:

    Hey, Anon 11:14;

    You said this-
    “Secondly, if a conference goer pays for a conference, they are paying for the workshops. They are not paying to have access to editors and agents in social situations.”

    I say this-

    Ever notice that at mealtimes, at some conferences they will place little cards on the tables, announcing that one agent, editor or author will be sitting there? Why is that? So the unwashed can cozy up and pepper the luminary with questions.

    After the hours of the conference, I agree with you completely. If Agent A wishes to get stinking drunk or eat mac n’ cheese with Author B and editor C, that’s fine. The smarter of these breeds will stay behind closed doors or exit the premises to do so.

    During the printed hours of that conference, they are fair game. I’d love to see a survey asking just that question: How many conference goers are there for the coursework, and how many are there to gain access to publishing professionals? I have this feeling that the majority would go to those looking to network, because at every conference I’ve attended, the people are always there with meeting pros on their mind… it’s never, “Ooooh, I can’t wait to take that class on query writing!”

    The seminars are a nice way to break up the day, and to gain some good information, but they are never worth the three to six hundred bucks the conference costs.

    If I was in a pigeon-holeing kind of mood, I’d have you pegged as one of those published writers who sees unpublished writers as unneccessary competition for shelf-space. Screw everybody who says they aren’t competing for spots at B&N (Kristin even states that YA authors are running out of spots at that very store)- we all know publishing is a competetive business. You probably think the rest of us are just scum getting in the way of your next book.

  24. diana said:

    anon 11:14,

    If an industry professional (agent, editor) does not wish to be exposed to amateurs at conferences that are open to all comers (amateurs, pros), then they should not attend the conferences. Instead, they should organize private retreats, including only their clients and possibly other authors and their agents. That will give them the privacy they need so desperately, to connect and network among themselves, to get to know each other.

    I am sure that there are a great many agents and editors who do not attend conferences that allow un-published writers to participate.

    Those that DO attend open-to-all conferences should shut the fuck up and quit whining when they are FORCED to deal with someone who isn’t a pro. Those that whine so plaintively about being exposed to inept writers should take better care of what events they go to, and should deal with their own clients in more controlled environments. Here’s to the stupid (raises invisible glass of wine) who bitch and moan about meeting real people in the real world.

  25. Anonymous said:

    >nvk said…i was at the new
    >england conferene and i found you
    >very hard to socialize with.

    I was at the NEC conference and loved it. I wasn’t specifically looking to meet Kristin because I have an agent, but my friend and I happened to bump into her at the bar outside the dessert buffet Friday night (even loaned her a quarter). I found her extremely accessible and wonderful to chat with (even if it was only about the quarter and the price of drinks. LOL!)

    I didn’t go to Kristin’s workshop, but I found at every workshop I did attend that the presenter was easy to talk to after their workshop ended. So, that’s something to consider for next time maybe? 🙂 The book fair Saturday afternoon was also a great place to meet and chat with various people (and I’m not the most outgoing person, so for me to say that, you know it had to have been easy.) 🙂