It had been 8 years since I attended the Writers’ League of Texas annual Agents and Editors Conference, so I signed up this year. I have been stuck on a couple of writing projects and looked forward to attending the sessions, as well as get the latest information on the industry and publicity. I also decided to take a pitching shot in a one-on-one with an editor and an agent, or at least pick their brains and get their opinions about what I was working on. After I signed up, life decided to play a joke on me as I hurt my right foot, couldn’t walk and ended up needing foot surgery which confined me to a wheelchair for over three months. Of course, the conference fell during one of those months. Being too late to get a refund on the $500.00 I invested and since the conference was here in Austin and did not require traveling, I decided to wing it, and found someone to be my official wheelchair pusher for the 3 days I attended. It was interesting, to say the least, to navigate the conference, but at the same time it gave me a sense of acceptance which made possible a new perspective and the right attitude. Below are some tips to make the most of an Agents and Editors Conference:
- Open your mind to all the other things the conference has to offer, instead of focusing only on the pitching opportunity. Make a list of goals other than a call back.
- Make a list of the sessions that you do not want to miss and be sure to include the sessions where the editor and/or agent you picked for the one-on-one is on the panel.
- Make sure you participate in the sessions and if possible, ask questions directly to the editor and/or agent you picked for the one-on-one. This will break the ice for when you go into the pitching session and will allow you to make it about getting help and advice if the pitch doesn’t result in a call back.
- Do not focus only on pitching though. Pick the experts brain. Introduce yourself and ask questions that can help you to produce a better project.
- Finally, network with other writers and make friends. One of them might be able to refer you to their agent later on!
Don’t wait to break a leg to find the right attitude…just go there looking to learn and make friends, as well as helpful contacts. Remember you can always submit directly to the agents and editors you met, so relax and have fun!