Monday, October 3, 2011

Help! Advice Wanted!

I'm attending my first writers' conference in three weeks where I have an appointment with an agent. I'm asking for advice.

What do I need? Business cards? And what do they say?

I know I have to prepare a pitch, but what else to I need to do?

I'm attending workshops for three days - does one take notes, or will I be an object of scorn?

Needless to say, any and all advice is welcome.  Links to helpful advice would be welcome.

I don't know how much (if any) I'll be posting in the next three weeks. Social networking is important, but actually getting the job done is more important.  Sooner or later, you've got to step out of the wings and on to the stage.

It's the Mother of all Auditions.

Wish me luck. I've never liked auditions.


  1. A business card is nice. Your name, and contact information, maybe a tag line.

    Mostly, have a very SHORT summary of the book you're pitching. Agents aren't there to be mean; they're there because they're looking for new authors.

    Most of the time, they'll be on brain overload, so they odds are good that they'll ask for a sample of your work, which bypasses the dreaded query letter.

    I repeat. Keep your pitch short so they can take the lead. They know what they want to know, so let them ask.

    Good luck. And don't bring your manuscript and slip it under the bathroom stall. They really, really don't like that.

    Definitely take notes in workshops. It used to be the room would be filled with the clicking of Alpha Smarts, but they seem to have gone by the wayside. I have notebooks filled with notes. I usually share them on my blog after a conference (But I will ask the speaker for permission. Only had one who seemed to think her information was too "special" to share outside the workshop.) Which reminds me -- I have to go put together a handout for my workshop at the Emerald City Conference!

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. Fun!

    I'd say, be prepared with an elevator pitch. And find out as much about this agent and what appeals to him/her so you can hone your approach.

    The most important thing is to follow up after the conference! I've heard that so many writers freeze up after they get an invite to query...just follow up with the agent with a personal query that reminds them when and where they met you.

    I always like to take notes at the workshops. Some folks don't, but my memory is horrid.

    My pre-pub business card had my name and 'mystery writer' on it with my email address and cell phone number.

    Good luck!

  3. Elspeth - Oh, I hope you will have a wonderful time, and I know you'll do brilliantly. I agree with Elizabeth that having a pitch prepared is really important. So is (in my opinion) collecting as many connections and business cards as you can. The more hands you shake and email addresses you get, the better.

  4. Good luck! I've attended conferences (and yes I take notes) but I've never pitched to an agent like that. But I know agents are not monsters- they want what you want, to publish great books.

  5. Hi Elspeth, this post I did before the Colorado Gold Conference might help:

    Ten Ways to Get the Most from a Writers Conference

  6. Good luck, Elspeth! Just be yourself and everything is going to click just right!

  7. I agree with what's been said -- business cards, definitely. Pitch, short and sweet. Take notes if you feel the need to. Sometimes I get way more by giving all of my attention rather than trying to scribble everything down.

    Oh, and "buy my book or I'll break your shins" is not a good way to pitch. Just saying. (Not speaking from experience, btw.)


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