Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Things I Learned at the SCBWI Conference

In the last post, I talked about things I'd learned by listening to what agents or other industry professionals had to say.  This post, I'll share with you what I learned just by experiencing the whole event.

      1. Come prepared.

Do you guys remember when I asked you all for help to prepare for the conference?  I had an inkling of what I needed to do, but I still needed to get that extra information from all of you to make sure I felt totally prepared.  And walking into the conference, I was.

I had my pitch perfected and memorized, samples of my work in case anyone asked for it, copies of my synopsis, business cards, and I was dressed to impress.

Those who weren't prepared stood out, but not in a good way.  You see, I made it a point to introduce myself to as many writers as possible.  And through the course of the conference I heard a lot of pitches.  Most of them consisted of a lot of "ums" and "well, it's about (insert theme here)."  Okay... Well, I lost interest because I really didn't know what the book was about.  I asked a few questions to clarify, but most of the writers couldn't narrow the story down to the plot.

Not. Good.

It really made me sympathize with what a lot of agents have been saying about really preparing for stuff like this.

       2. Mingle

You never know who you're going to talk to and what you'll learn by talking to them.  In fact, on Friday evening, I met up with a blogging buddy and a few of her friends.  Those friends happened to know of a meet-and-greet going on later that night at a local pub.  If I'd given in to my shyness and not hunted my blogging buddy down (though I'd never met her in real life before), I would have missed out on that opportunity.

And, of course, I made some really great new acquaintances over the course of the weekend.

      3. Agents are human beings

In fact, they're often quite humorous human beings.  They are not people to be feared, and you certainly shouldn't feel like you have to perform in front of them.

That was one of the greatest things about the little get together Mary Kole organized with her blog followers.  She'd made it clear that she didn't want to be pitched and it really took the burden off our shoulders.  I felt like I didn't need to pretend around her or make sure I was always on.  We talked about movies, our favorite books, etc.  There was absolutely no pressure.

And here's something we all should remember:  If you can't be comfortable around an agent, you can't work with an agent.  If you're constantly thinking this is a person who carries your life in his/her hands, how can you possibly be open and honest with them?  Your business relationship should be an equal partnership where both parties seek to benefit from the other.

Discussion:  How do you guys feel about the whole agent/author relationship?  And do you have any questions for me?  Ask away!


  1. Mingle?!?! *moaning*

    Thanks for all the useful information!

  2. That's great advice - being prepared always makes things better.

  3. Ha, mingling IS easier than an introverted writer would think. I've found people into children's writing are usually quite easy to talk to, and friendly!

    And you're spot on about agents. If a writer is intimidated by agents in general or a specific agent, it would definitely be difficult to work with them. I find I'm drawn to VERY professional/knowledgeable agents, but agents who also possess a working sense of humor. I don't think I could work with someone who is glum or all ploddy-business. ;o)

  4. Prepare? Eeeeeewww!
    Mingle? Uuuuhhhhgggg!
    Humans? Double eeeeeeewwwww!!

    But, I was so looking forward to singing and dancing the whole time I met with an agent. Ü

    I know, I know. I'm obnoxious. My wife tells me so all the time. But, truly, thank you for sharing this stuff for us novices to the ways of writers and conferences.
    Funny Stuff I Write

  5. yeah. i think i would be scared.... i should probably work on that. :)

  6. OMG, I totally missed that you were going to an SCBWI conference! Aren't they fun? I loved the one I went to. Sounds like you were prepared and had a great time. Awesome!

  7. Thanks for this - it's really encouraging to hear about what a good experience a conference can be! I've never been to one but the thought of having to mingle with all those strangers kind of terrifies me. I picked writing because I like the solitary life!!! But you're right: if you're there, be prepared and take full advantage of the opportunities before you.

  8. I wonder if I'll ever get to one of these. In the meantime, I love reading about your experience!

  9. I like the part you wrote about agents, although I'm not sure they feel the same way :) I'm sure they like you to be a bit afraid of them he he ...

  10. I'm glad you got so much out of the conference. It sounded like fun.


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