Monday, July 14, 2008

Always be careful

A very long time ago, during my first attempt at serious writing--yeah, back when I was trying to join my local chapter again--I thought conferences were the way to go. Face to face contact, the opportunity to pitch, the company of other "serious writers" like me.

It didn't take me long to realize you can leave high school, but you never leave cliques. Cliques are simply nature's way of sorting people into compatible sub-sets. I had no one to talk to and the one editor appointment I got was with the owner/editor of a house so small she was using free vista-print cards with ads on the back. I had no clue what kind of material her house bought, so of course I pitched Hot Contract. Turns out she only wanted erotic multi-culturals. She asked for a partial, but by then I'd added up all the subliminal clues and said, " characters are of mixed race, but mostly Asian. And I think I have one hot sex scene."

She was really polite, and insisted, but I was really polite and said, "thanks but no thanks. It's a waste of both our times." The next year--by then I stopped going to the chapter meetings and just went to the conferences--I was late for the orientation lunch and almost ran over a really slow woman in the hall outside the conference room. Of course, I was borderline nasty, and she was beet-red. Which didn't help my pitch, because the woman turned out to be a big editor from Kensington, and my appointment went sort of like, "Oh my God. I'm so sorry." And her, "Hey! I recognize you."

The last small conference I went to contained--oh joy!--two of my friends from when I used to be a bookseller. Bookselling is a small world--like writers, we all know each other. For no reason other than it was a bookseller thing, I got to hang out and talk to Nora Roberts for an hour because Mary knew her. This time my appointment was with an editor from Avon. But she was "Laura Kinsale's editor" and I was in total awe. I didn't even bother pitching. I simply pumped her for information. All in all, a very nice day, but non-productive.

Years passed, and I decided maybe the "big" conference would be better. I was so fatalistic, I figured, okay--I'll check pictures, and blogs, and interests, agent likes and dislikes, and editorial preferences. I'll do my very best, throw everything I have at it, and if I sell, I sell, and if I don't, there's always next year.

I got so many requests, I got requests for things I hadn't even written yet. In the years it took me to start writing again, I'd learned to like who I am. I'm not the nicest person, and if I'm touchie-feelie I must be keeping it in a bag or something, because I don't have it on me. worked because I wasn't trying to play anyone.

But I always know who I'm approaching, what they buy and don't buy--what they absolutely hate, a general idea of what they look like, and I never, ever push around people in a nasty way, because agents and editors look like people, and they blend.


Jeanna said...

So did you fill your orders? Having almost no ambition myself, I have no idea how that works.
And what did you run over the beet with?

Alice Audrey said...

Do you still think conferences are the way to go?

bria said...

Have you been listening into K and I --- Cliques happen.

I feel you pain on the not recognizing people thing --- I've done it so many times (with AMAZINGLY famous writers: Jennie Crusie, Loretta Chase, Julia Quinn) that my friends have started calling it 'pulling a bria'

I'm sure this conference will be Perfect (note the capital) :)


jodi said...

lol, Jeanna--I have some amazing reviews on the stuff I haven't written yet. Two agents still want to look at my urban fantasy. I think I have about twenty pages. No, never did.

The people who wanted to see Hot Contract didn't buy, and after another year, I grew strong enough to see why and rewrote it. I like to think I'm better (exponentially, lol?)now, so maybe the next will sell to bigger and more lucrative houses.

I ran over the editor with my pointy toed shoes, (uhm, her heels, and I think I shoved her with the flat of my hand to stop myself from falling into her *sigh*)I did get to spit over the side of a balcony with an editor from TOR, she was super cool and too fun.

No, Alice. I don't. I think queries work better. In persons don't unless you're Amanda, because Amanda is a networking MACHINE. But...for a few days, I'd like to be part of a crowd of people whose eyes don't glaze when I mention writing, and don't automatically wince at the mention of romance. Guess...I'm just looking for company.

lol, Bria. Kaige is a great person. I'm pretty sure this conference will be a winner. There's a food court in the super uber mall less than half a block away!! Can ANY one go wrong with a super uber mall?

Unhinged said...


I'm also relieved to read that queries are the better way to go (when trying to hook an agent or editor) than by going to conferences. I sound SO much better via written word than in person.

Alice Audrey said...

That was my feeling too.

Jeanna said...

Now I'll keep picturing you in pointy toed shoes.