Monday, March 29, 2010

The Write Stuff Conference Report!!!!

First off, let me just say, the people over at GLVWG are FANTASTIC!!! They put together a really great conference!! Definitely go and check them out!!!!

Day 1: I left my house about 8:30, just after my daughter got on the bus for school. I picked up my writing friend Sarah, aka Sadie Worth (check her out too!!) After a stop at Tim Horton's for bagels and beverages, we were on our way. The weather was beautiful, great day for driving. We had no troubles and the five hour drive seemed to fly by....I'm sure our constant gabbing made that happen!

We checked in at 3 ish and got settled in the room. We had 'til 7, so we took a trip to Target down the street. Came back and started to get ready. I went to the lobby to print up my synopsis to have just in case (there was a community computer and printer there), and in walks Evan Goldfried, a Literary Agent. I had a moment of "OMG" a celebrity had walked into the hotel. Made me wonder if they know that we writers sometimes look at them like that! They hold our future writing careers in their hands!!!

After that, we got ourselves all glammed up and the conference officially began!

We met up in the lobby with Renee and Frank Rocco from Lyrical Press, my publishers for A Bitch Named Karma. This was my first time meeting them outside of cyber space, and let me tell you, they are the sweetest people I have ever met!!!!!! I immediately felt at ease with them, as if I had known them forever, and knew without even the most minuscule smidgen of doubt, that my book had landed in THE BEST hands ever!!! I also met Ann Simko, a fellow Lyrical author. Fantastic lady!! We all chatted for a few minutes, then Renee and Frank had to jet off for a session called Page Cuts, where authors had submitted the first page of their manuscript, anonymously, and it was read to the room and critiqued by a panel.

The first event we attended was the Pitching Dos and Don'ts workshop led by Kim Lionetti from Bookends LLC, who happened to be the agent I had an appointment with the next day. I was super excited for this session...hoping to calm my nerves about actually being face to face....a few feet away from an AGENT! Kim was fantastic and the session showed me that as god-like as they appear to us, agents are actually human and they are real and down to Earth! She gave some fantastic advice and I took notes:

#1: Don't do too much. Keep it short and to the point. Choose the strongest concept of your story and make that the focus, 2-5 sentences. Think of your pitch as the blurb that would be on the back of your book.

#2: Focus on what makes your book different than everything else that's out there.

#3: Know your audience. Publishing is a business, you absolutely must know who will want to read your book. If an agent takes you on, the publishers will need to know where your book would fit in the publishing world.

#4: Don't be nervous. As hard as it is, try to relax. She actually suggested a glass of wine, even at 10 in the morning! LOL!

#5: Don't try to memorize your pitch. Let your story flow. You know your story and agents want to see your enthusiasm, not a paragraph that has been studied and then just spewed out. It's okay to have some index cards as a reminder, but it's best if you can just let it flow!

#6: Do your research. Know what the agent represents, the past books they've sold.

#7: Ask questions! Show enthusiasm!

#8: Know the market and what author your work is similar to. Yes, they want something new and different, but they also need to know what is out there that's similar and where they can place your book. (Take my advice on this one......I am soooooooooooooooooo glad I took a minute to ponder this question...cause guess what..she did ask me!!!! So glad I had an answer ready and not a blank stare and "Ummmmm.")

#8: Concentrate on the book and if there's time at the end, then list your publishing credits.

I learned a lot during the session, including one point that Kim didn't make herself: there is such a thing as too much courage. During the session, a woman raised her hand and asked if she could stand and read her pitch to the room. Kim was respectful and tactful, and of course, gave her the okay. But the rest of us....we thought it was rude. It seemed that this woman had not been lucky enough to snag a pitch appointment with Kim and had taken it upon herself to interrupt the session to make sure Kim heard it. Not sure what this woman expected, but throughout the conference, we experienced this type of behavior with this woman again. Not cool.

The session ended and I walked away with a bit more confidence than I had before, but in all honesty, it didn't curb the nerves too much! I made some notes in a notepad...up until that point I still had no clue what I was going to say. I hoped I would get in there and it would flow freely. Winging it seemed like the best plan for me :)

The Welcome Reception started and we found our way to the cash bar, where Renee and Frank were. They insisted on buying us a drink! We talked for a bit then separated to mingle around the room. I met up with another Lyrical Author, Rebecca Rose and some other writers too. It was so amazing to be in a room COMPLETELY filled with writers!!

We then started walking around, hoping to meet some of the agents. It's kind of an awkward thing. The agents were usually in a group, surrounded by other writers, talking about various things, writing related and other. You just kind joined the circle and waited to be acknowledged or when a lull allowed you the chance to jump in. First we joined the circle around Michelle Humphrey, a agent who represents YA and the agent my friend Sarah had her pitch appointment with. She was very pleasant and asked what we wrote and how we liked the conference so far. Again, it was such a relief to see that agents are real people and easy to talk with! Sarah made most of the conversation with her, as I really didn't have much to say, YA not being my genre and all, but I enjoyed the conversation.

Then we found Kim Lionetti. Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete dweeb when I told her I enjoyed her session and how down to Earth I thought she was. We talked for a bit then gravitated toward Renee and Frank again. I wanted Sarah to get the chance to talk with them more, as she hoped to snag a pitch session with them for her adult novel. So while we're talking, Renee tells me that my debut novel, A Bitch Named Karma, that hasn't even been released as an ebook yet (June 7th), WILL BE RELEASED IN PRINT in January!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A little birdie had already mentioned it to me but I would not allow myself to really tell anyone...fear of jinxing it!!! But now I have heard it straight from the horse's mouth!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!

So needless to say, we had a great time talking with them and also experienced many tears...from laughing so hard!

It was about 10:30 at that point, so we headed back to the room for email checking, showering and an attempt to get as much sleep as possible before a big day of workshops and pitch sessions!!!

Stay tuned for more!


  1. No, you left us hanging!!

    I want to hear how the pitch session went!

    Sounds like you had a great time though, so I'm happy for you (even if I'm so jealous that you have a Tim Horton's nearby. so jealous)

  2. :) Megan, we have them EVERYWHERE!! I think I can count about 3-4 that are within a 2-mile radius of my house!

    Thanks so much! More to come tomorrow! But go back and reread this post....I forgot one piece of huge clue I could possibly forget it!!!

  3. Yay! Sounds so fun! I'd probably shake into a million bits if I had to pitch face-to-face. Can't wait for tomorrow's installment. :-D

  4. Woohoo! Sounds like you had a great time, and can't wait to hear about the rest!

  5. HOLY CRAP! So happy for you! Great experience and tips and your book will be released in January in print!! YAY! =D

  6. I'm glad you had a good time! Thanks for taking notes for us and posting them. I'm envious that you got to meet Renee. :)

  7. Aubrie, they are both so amazing!! I had zero expectations, but they far surpassed anything I could have imagined! I truly felt so completely at ease with them...within seconds of meeting them! And they are so supportive of their writers!!!

    Huge thanks to everyone on your comments!!! If you ever get the chance...definitely go to a conference!!!! I'm addicted now!!

  8. Love the play-by-play! I can't believe how much we were able to cram into two short days!!! Is your brain still on overload like mine? It took me forever to fall asleep last night - even though I was exhausted - I think I was just too busy processing all of the info we learned! :)

  9. Oh that sounds so great! I'm glad you're so excited and fab news on the print book. Congrats. Can't wait until tomorrow's installment!!!

  10. Steph - this is so exciting. Looking forward to reading about the rest of the conference!! So excited for you.

  11. Sarah, it was a whirlwind weekend, wasn't it?? LOL! Gotta love it!!

    Thanks Anne!

    Thanks Dayna!! Most days I can't believe it's all actually happening!