I know, writer's conferences are expensive. Not just the conference itself, but the transportation to get there, lodging, food and of course, the irresistable shopping expeditions on the side. But if you're a writer looking to renew and re-inspire your writing, if you're looking to hone your craft, if you're hoping to make contact with agents, editors or published writers who might act as references, the writer's conference is the place to be.
Last week, I had the honor of participating in two panels at the Backspace Writer's Conference in the Big Apple. During the three day conference, over twenty-five agents attended. That's a lot of agents in one place, and they were all looking to help authors develop stories the agents could sell!
There were writers--multi-published writers. Writers who have been in the business for decades, like Gayle Lynds . And writers who have garnered a boatload of professional praise, like Hank Phillippi Ryan. (The picture is of me and Gayle Lynds connecting at the book signing.)
And agents didn't just wander around looking superior with wine glasses in their hands (although wine glasses were never far from view!). They offered their valuable time in workshops where authors could present two pages of their manuscript for agents' critiques--all anonymously!
Those sessions were the stars of the show! Here's some of what authors learned:
* In what part of the opening did A.E.G.O. (Agents eyes glaze over). For some, it was after the first paragraph. Great! Those writers knew it was back to the keyboard. For others, after their two pages were read, an agent would scream, "Whose is that? Send me that manuscript, tomorrow!"
What a thrill for those authors!
More of what writers learned about querying an agent:
*Don't be cutesy, ever, in a query letter. No adorable fonts. No watermarks with your name in elegant script. No flowers around the border. This is a business letter. Keep it that way.
*Avoid telling agents your book is funny, interesting, amazing, suspenseful, soulful, powerful, chilling, bittersweet or sure to be the next best seller. Use exact descriptions to tell them about your story. Study how successful queries are written. (And there are enough resources available for several posts on that topic!)
*Don't overwrite. Don't try to impress with using obscure vocabulary words and over-abundant descriptions. Take out unnecessary character movements, dialogue and physical description. Grab your reader with a story that won't let go!
A conference can get a writer that valuable one-on-one time with an agent or an editor. An extra expense?Yes. Priceless? Absolutely!