Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
At the end of the month, I’m attending the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference. Click HERE to go to their website. Because of my upcoming trip, I thought I could provide some insights into writers’ conferences. I’ll be chatting the next few days about why agents go to conferences (which helps you to understand how to connect with us there); what a good appointment with a conferee looks like to me; conference etiquette; and suggestions for how you can make the most of your writers’ conference experience.
Let’s get started!
Today’s topic: Why Agents Go to Writers’ Conferences
I go to conferences because:
Reason Number 1: I’m looking for clients.
The writers who attend conferences generally care about perfecting their craft. These are the kind of clients I want! I want to find authors who are willing to work hard and revise their projects until they are ready for publication. Even though this is hard work, I appreciate an author who puts the time and energy into learning new writing techniques and does it with a good attitude.
Reason Number 2: I can help to build into future authors.
Agents can help to build into future authors through the workshops we teach. We try to offer helpful advice to budding writers and to give insights into the world of publishing. During individual meetings with writers, even if the project being pitched isn’t quite right for us or needs to be refocused, we can offer suggestions for improvement.
During many conferences, agents and editors each “host” a table at meals and have conversations with writers. The host will often offer advice during this time or help to build relationships between the conferees at the table. You can learn a lot from the other writers around you, too.
Agents want future authors to understand how to write a proposal, what the key ingredients are in a successful relationship with an agent and a publishing house, and how to keep improving their writing. All that can be worked on at a writers’ conference.
Reason Number 3: I can meet with editors.
Agents continually build their relationships with editors. A conference is a good time for agents and editors to connect. Sometimes the meetings are more formal, other times we happen to run into each other at the espresso bar and sit down to talk. These meetings can consist of pitching projects currently represented by the agent, or they can just be a “get to know you” time. Through these meetings agents learn more about what an editor currently is looking to acquire.
Reason Number 4: I will build relationships and show the “face” behind an agency.
In any business, you can work with a person who does a great job for you, but it’s always nice to have a better idea of who the person is. If an agent is constantly hidden behind a computer with only email contact, it’s hard to feel like the agent is real. At a conference, the writer has an opportunity to meet the agent and to decide if that agent is a good match for him or her. At Books & Such, we focus on building strong relationships with our clients, and often we see them at conferences, which we consider a major plus.
Fun Fact About Rachel: I bought my first pair of Editor™ pants (from Express) right before my first writers’ conference. I’d always wanted a pair but waited to buy them until I was on “official” agent business. I figured my first conference was a good time! Editors…do you own Editor™ pants? If not, you should buy some!
Now, tell me why you go to writers’ conferences.