Last week I attended a terrific writer’s conference put on by the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. If you write women’s fiction, you need to be a member of this great organization. The classes were fun and informative. The networking with new friends was enjoyable and educational. I took the opportunity to pitch an agent.
No matter how often I pitch an agent, I get sweaty palms. I told myself I am self-published with great reviews. I am about to publish the second book in my Knoll Cottage series. So, I had no reason—being the mature, accomplished woman that I am—to be nervous. And why pitch an agent at this point?
I wanted to chat about the new world of publishing. I came armed with a paperback copy of Missing Emily, book one in the series; comments from my editor; a synopsis of Silent Grace.
The young agent from Trident Media Group, L.L.C. was very professional and took notes. I told her I am self-published and I have done all the hard things right, based on the reviews and comments from readers. She asked me about sales. I said they aren’t good, which is why I am nervously sitting in from of her. I need guidance! All of the information I’ve read about marketing, driving sales, email lists haven’t helped me. And I wondered if, in this new world of publishing, I could still have an agent represent me.
And the literary agent said: Yes! She said having a published book would not stop an agent from representing the author.
I told her the stories of both Missing Emily and Silent Grace. She asked me questions, and I answered. I accomplished none of this with grace because my throat was a little tight. In the end, she asked me to query her on both novels. I offered her the paperback of Missing Emily and the literary agent said: Yes.
In truth, I’ve never pitched an agent at a conference who didn’t ask for more material. Even on my very first book. But the space between the query sending and rejection sending is a warm and hopeful place. I will let you know what happens!
Many of the followers of this blog are writers like me. Some of you are beloved family or dear friends, who have shown the most generous spirit to help since the day I embarked on writing. So, I am not journaling the steps to a published book for self-promotion, but I want all of you who know me, all of you who are on your own writing journey, and any of you who love to read and might be interested in how that debut novel arrives on the shelf, to follow me on the path of publishing my first book.
I was not the child with her nose in a book, or who scribbled stories since she was six. I was at the playground, riding my bike, exploring in the woods, and climbing trees to take pictures of bird nests.
A long time ago, I took a night class at a local high school. Every week we handed in a writing sample, which the teacher edited. Every week her notes said not to use the passive voice. What? What is a passive voice? Years later, my first real writing began with an illness. A friend brought me a journal and told me to write it all down, and it was freeing. So, when another trauma came along, I wrote it all down. That time, it became a novel. Sow’s ear to a silk purse?
That’s how my writing journey started ten years ago. The learning curve has been huge for me, a nurse who never studied literature. I wouldn’t give up one day of it. After classes and conferences, teachers and mentors, support from family and friends, five novels under my belt, this Thursday, I will take the first step toward publishing my book.
If you are a writer, please tell me how your own writing journey began. As always, all comments are welcome, but make sure to use the active voice!
I’m starting this blog on the Wednesday before I publish it. All writers know that the career we’ve chosen is fraught with downs. And I think they have a magnetic quality, because they tend to come in groups. You may get a “dear author” rejection, a bad critique, and that feeling like you hate every one of the 93,000 words you spent the year putting on paper.
Don’t be fooled. These are not what you think they are. These are not indications that you lack the talent your mother insists you have—or your best friend. These are the blows that make you say, “Oh yeah?” Okay, maybe you kick the dog or sleep for twenty hours first, but then you say, “Oh, yeah?”
I’m coming off a group of downs. I beat them off with tennis balls this morning. Now I think, at the writer’s conference I’m attending this weekend, something wonderful is going to happen. It’s true, my favorite agent, with whom I was going to meet, isn’t coming. That just leaves more room for something else to take its place. Maybe something wonderful.
So, I bought a new, bright pink sweater to wear at the conference. I’ve packed pages to be critiqued, and I’ve practiced a pitch for another agent.
Will I get ups or downs? I’ll finish the blog on Monday after the conference.
My recovery went well. The writer’s conference, put on by the Space Coast Writer’s Guild, was terrific. My personal best. I had a great critique on my WIP, except for the twenty or so commas he added. I pitched two separate manuscripts to two different agents; both asked for submissions, in spite of my nervous babbling. I received kudos for my new work, which is in the planning stages, with comments like “excellent” and “I think this will sell,” from the publisher who was teaching the class. I also made some new friends and met some interesting people. The food was delicious and plentiful. I got a contact for an interview I needed. Best of all, I’m going to prison! Only to tour, of course. All ups! I’m raring to get to work again.
Last week was the 51st Annual Conference of the Cape Cod Writers Center. Kudos to Nancy Rubin Stuart, the Executive Director; and Kevin Symmons, the President of the Cape Cod Writers Center. Every year they manage to put together a terrific group of authors, editors, agents, and publicists who teach over thirty classes.
With each conference I learn something new and wonderful to help with my career. This year my personal best class award (of the ones I attended) was Alan Rinzler’s, Ten Top Problems Submitting Your Work and How to Fix Them. Alan worked for years in the publishing industry and edited such stars as Toni Morrison, Clive Cussler, and Andy Warhol. Alan put his remarkable experience into an exceptional handout and a three hour lecture. He’s a dynamic speaker with a sense of humor. I highly recommend Alan Rinzler’s classes, which he gives in many different states and venues. Look him up: http://www.alanrinzler.com. He has an informative blog for writers called, The Book Deal.
Is this not another good reason to visit Cape Cod?