Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Last week I wrote a blog post about how an agent spends a typical day in the office. You can read it here.
Today I’m at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference as a faculty member. You might think agents and editors try hard to be elusive at conferences, but a peek into what my days consist of might help you to create a strategy that leads to a connection. (Of course every conference is structured differently with variations on what faculty are expected to do, but this post should get you thinking strategically.)
I’ve chosen to write about the first full day at Mount Hermon, when energy and spirits are running high. At this point, we’re all hopeful we’ll accomplish every goal we set for ourselves at the conference. At breakfast, the faculty have reserved tables. That’s because agents, editors and published authors squeeze tiny spots into their schedules to talk business with each other. Breakfasts, breaks, and late-night free time are slots we fill with faculty meetings.
After breakfast, I’ll rush back to my room to read the opening pages of manuscripts attendees submitted before the conference with the request that I peruse them. If a conference has this type of system; take advantage of it. I can request, on a form the conference provides, to meet with conferees whose work interests me.
The previous afternoon I will have set up appointments for this morning to meet with conferees and clients who are attending the conference. At Mount Hermon, the conferees must request an appointment in person; other conferences have sign-up sheets. Once again, if you have a proposal written and think it’s ready for an agent to see, this is an excellent chance to pitch the project. Be brave and do so. You’ll get direct feedback on its suitability.
At lunch, each table will have a placard on it with a faculty member’s name. Anyone who wants to talk with me sits at my table. I make a point, throughout the meal, of giving everyone a chance to either pitch a project or ask a question. With hundreds of people carrying on conversations around the room, it creates quite a cacophony, but it’s stimulating too.
After lunch I head over to the building where the Career Track (whose attendees have written two or more published books) takes place. This afternoon Tim Peterson, a nonfiction acquisitions editor at Bethany House, is teaching a workshop entitled, Industry Trends and Marketing Strategies. Because it will be an interactive session, my job is to toss in my opinion when, as an agent, I might see a situation differently than Tim does or to expand on an idea he has brought up.
After Tim’s session, the Career Track will break into fiction and nonfiction segments, with T. Davis Bunn leading an advanced workshop on writing fiction and Lynn Vincent doing the same for nonfiction writers. I’ll go with the nonfiction group and facilitate the workshop for Lynn.
That will take us up to dinner where I’ll have a table full of conferees to host once again and listen to their pitches.
Dinner is followed by a keynote session with former Disney imagineer McNair Wilson.
Afterwards (we’re talking about 9:30 pm), Books & Such will host a party (woo-hoo!) for our 25 clients attending the conference. As an agency, our practice is to bring our clients together whenever we’re at an event. At some point in the socializing, we’ll run out of tea, hot cider, coffee and eats, and each of us will realize we’re also running out of steam. We’ll drift off to our rooms where some will slip into sleep, others will be too wired to even go to bed, and still others will launch into yet another conversation–with a roomie or with God. Thus endeth the first (very) full day of the conference.
As you read this blog, what occurred to you as important ways to prepare for a conference so you can take full advantage of it?
Note: As you can tell from this blog, I’ll have little time to join the conversation today, but as I have a minute or two, I’ll check in on the comments.
Making an agent connection at a writers conference. Click to tweet.
How to connect with an agent at a writers conference. Click to tweet.