One of the things discussed in a session at DFW Writers’ Conference this year was not to blog about writing. I’m gonna go right on ahead and break that “rule,” because when I was first starting out, there were so many mixed messages and people with a bias making proclamations that it was hard to tell which way was up. I wish I’d had someone “in the thick of it” to tell me what was going on, so I’m going to provide that resource.
I’ve had a little bit of time to recover from the sugar-and-caffeine soaked two-day marathon that is DFW Writers’ Conference, and I’m here to tell you it is money well spent. I was a little nervous going in that I wouldn’t get as much out of it as I had last year, in my first visit, but this year was better. I was more comfortable, had better business cards (based on experience from the year prior), and knew to wear a sweater because some of those rooms are cold and because I sweat with nervousness during a pitch. All good lessons!
If you’re on the fence about attending a writing conference–maybe you’re worried about the cost–I’d recommend you do it. I can’t vouch for any but DFW Con, as it’s the only “big” conference I’ve attended, but if you even think there is something you’ll learn, go. And if you’re querying agents, DEFINITELY go.
On that note: My pitch session(s)
At DFW Con you get one pitch session with an agent included in the ticket price. You look through all the attending agents, pick your top three, and are assigned a pitch session.
A pitch session is basically like speed dating. And you’re speaking on behalf of your book. You have 10 minutes to convince the person across the table that you have something they could sell. If they’re interested, they may ask for you to query them, or for pages. Or, if you’re really lucky, for a full manuscript.
She asked for a full manuscript!
And then, at DFW Con anyway, you can pay $40 for a second pitch session. So I did that, with another agent who I’d seen around and who I thought maybe would like a zombie gamebook.
And then SHE asked for a full manuscript.
So I’m like:
That alone made the conference worth it to me. Especially when my query letter was read at the Gong Show at the end of the conference, and my letter got triple-gonged before they even read the third line (no, I’m not telling you which letter it was. I’m embarrassed. I swear it was going to be SO GOOD, if they had only read a little further!)
But that explains some of the trouble I’ve been having. I’ve gotten nothing but rejections from my letter. If I was only sending out that letter (continuing to make the mistake/take the risk), I may never have gotten the chance to put my manuscript in front of an agent. By going to DFW Con, I get to do it TWICE. That’s huge.
Even without those parts of the conference, there’s a lot to learn. I went to an incredible session on how to do your taxes as a writer. In fact, I wish I could explain it well enough to do a post on it, because it will be so useful. (The short version: It’s pretty complicated).
I also got to meet lots of other writers, of all kinds of backgrounds, and got to hang out with some pros. I took sessions on grammar and dialogue and social media. I got the inside scoop on the different royalty rates (and I WILL be blogging about that. That was too good not to share), and had an excellent session with Jenny Martin on finding your voice.
In short: Conferences do a lot for you. Go try one out.
And let’s dance a little more.