Well, it’s come and gone.
I typed in the very last edit on the very last line of my third draft on Friday.
Moments later, I took off to the Atlanta Writer’s Conference to pitch Wake to Wander for the very first time. I meandered around the labyrinth of the Sheraton Hotel, spotting the literary folks amongst a half a dozen other conferences by their sensible shoes and reading glasses and slightly wrinkled cardigans. I focused on straightening my own wrinkled clothing and tried to stop picking at my cuticles.
It was a really productive weekend, if not a “big break” moment. My manuscript critique was very affirming and gave me some particular points to fix. My pitch was more of a tete a tete since the agent I met with didn’t work with anything like my manuscript’s genre.
In the end, I learned a few vital lessons about writers conferences:
1. New authors should attend every writers conference they can. The opportunity to meet face to face with agents and editors is truly priceless. They are just as eager to publish successful books as you are, so that common interest is an immediate connection. My friend Sandy said that we had taken the step up to the next level of writing by attending this little conference, and I think she was right. We are networked professionals now.
2. Do your homework on every agent and editor in advance. Being informed, intentional, and proactive in every interaction with the industry professionals you meet can mean the difference between a manuscript submission and a dismissal. You are in competition with every other writer present. Do your homework, dress for the job you want, and go ready to sell your book/yourself.
3. Take notes on what helps you, ignore anything that discourages you. The publishing industry is highly subjective and therefore full of contradictions. The same agent will give you two different answers to the same question in the space of fifteen minutes, depending on the context. And two different agents or editors can be relied upon every time to tell you opposite tips with equal force and verve.
Overall, I learned this. Know why you want to publish and persist, persist, persist.
Coming up next, the first round of query letters! The goal is to have 100 sent by December 31st.