Thursday, June 28, 2007


Its that time again! You all know what Thursdays mean at the TKA blog.


After Diana's amazing post yesterday there isn't much I can follow up with, so I'm lucking out just answering your questions! BTW, Have you had a chance to read Diana's post yet? If not, read yesterday's post. There are so many "A-HA" moments of clarity throughout, and it applies on so many levels of entertainment. Has anyone else noticed the plethora of "3rds" this summer at the theaters?!


Anyways, onto the point - Its time for Q & A Day. I'm trying to focus the questions, but I'm drawing a blank. Lets try to keep them directed towards something conference related, but if you sneak in something else, well - I'll let it slide (it is your lucky day!)


So here we go. First 5 questions in the gate!

16 Comments:

Blogger zeldadg said...

Hi Elaine,

Do you think writing conferences become less valuable after a writer has attended several? Most people at the conferences I've attended are there to find out the basics, like how to write queries and proposals. So is it still useful to go if you're just covering the same information each time?

Or should I be looking for more specialized confernces?

Thanks,
Tricia
coffeeandcritique.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 10:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

I think that the answer to this question is different for every person. To tackle it you really need to consider what you are looking to get out of a conference.

I am doing a LOT of conference travel, and so I have seen first hand the general themes that you see over and over again at each event. The things like you discussed such as writing the perfect query, tackling great characterization, creating a hook, and the likes. There really isn't much you can do to avoid these basic elements, that are always going to exist, and that will continue to be in demand because there will always be writers that are still at that point in their career.

However, for someone that is a "veteran" to the basics, I still believe there is much to be gained from conference attendance.

First off, it is the best way in the world to network. THe relationships that you can build face to face with other writers and industry professionals are KEY. You never know when you are going to meet the one person that is going to offer you the avenues to help make your dreams come true.

Conferences are also GREAT ways to find out what is really going on in the market. There are always panels on what people are looking for, what editors are buying, what agents can't get enough of, that type of thing.

It is also an up-front opportunity to get answers to some of the more difficult questions that may be plaguing you. At these events there are usually many chances during panels, meals, coctail hours to chat one-on-one with insiders that can help demystify rumors and buzz about whats really going on.

Beyond all of this I think that conferences are unique opportunities for "refreshment". It is rare that an author walks away not being reenergized. These weekends spent amongst other people who share your passion allow you to step away from the stress of careers, families, and all of the other things going on and just focus on your writing. You can brainstorm, listen to others ideas, and hear how others accomplish their writing goals, in intense doses that you can't achieve on a daily basis.

For these reasons I think that conferences continue to hold value for writers at all levels, regardless of how many other events they have attended.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 10:52:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been hearing that Paranormal Romance has hit its peak. What about Urban Fantasy?

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 10:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

Urban fantasy is still HOT HOT HOT. I can't say it enough.

And for the matter, we are still selling paranormal without a problem. It needs to be VERY high concept, but that needs to be the case with all writing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 11:24:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tracy Leigh said...

Hi Elaine:

On Saturday, I asked you what the number one thing someone going to the National RWA conference for the first time should definitely do. I'm going to ask you a slight variation of that now! So here goes: If a person has never attended the RWA National conference in the past, what, in your opinion, should they focus on getting out of the experience? Workshops? Networking? A little bit of everything?

Thanks ahead of time,

Tracy

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 11:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eliza said...

Hey, Elaine!

I've got a partial with a great agent right now, and an entirely different partial for an entirely different market with an editor at a respected house. Should I continue to query, and if so, should I mention these things in my query letter?

Thanks,
-Eliza
www.elizatucker.com

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 11:33:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine:

From the writer loops I'm on, I've seen the way many writers view agent/editor appointments at conferences. They seem to place all their hopes and focus on that 5-10 minutes spent pitching to an agent. Really, how effective are these pitches? For instance, if you request a partial or full from someone who pitches you face-to-face, do you give more time and credence to those submissions than you do to the ones you've requested off an e-mailed query?

Many agents have said they rarely get new clients from conferences, and some admit they have never gotten a client from a conference. What's your batting average?

(Obviously, there is a LOT more benefit to conferences than the A/E appointments, but for some, it seems they think they're paying just for the privilege of spending time with an editor/agent...)

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 11:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...


If a person has never attended the RWA National conference in the past, what, in your opinion, should they focus on getting out of the experience? Workshops? Networking? A little bit of everything?


I think that for a first timer they should definitely try to get a little bit of everything.

As the old saying goes don't put all your eggs in one basket. Nationals can be overwhelming. SO many people, SO many books, SO many events, SO little time.

Sit down ahead of time and pick out a handful of workshops that you REALLY want to see. Get their a little early so you get great seats. Remember there are a TON of people, everything takes longer than planned.

As soon as you check into the conference you will receive a bag FULL of literature and books. While it can be exciting to just rush out and check everything out it is VERY helpful to sit down right away and read everything you are given, there can be wealths of hidden info about things going on at the event that you wouldn't have otherwise known.

Talk to the people next to you in lines and at workshops then you are networking the whole while! Try to meet as MANY people as possible.

Another really great thing to check out are the publisher spotlights. These are GREAT ways to find out what is really going on at different publishing houses, a way to beat the buzz/rumors.

If you are planning on going to any of the publisher booksignings get their early. You won't believe the lines that develop an hour+ in advance.

Take an empty suitcase. Literally.

Get to the goody room early. Its a great place to check out upcoming/recent titles, and a GREAT place to get ideas for your own future promo.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 2:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

I've got a partial with a great agent right now, and an entirely different partial for an entirely different market with an editor at a respected house. Should I continue to query, and if so, should I mention these things in my query letter?

I think that you should continue to query until you have an offer of representation or a deal on the table. These things can take forever depending on the parties you are dealing with and there is a chance that you could get an even better offer in the meantime.

I wouldn't mention them in the query. I would just briefly mention that this isn't your only project, that you have also completed X,Y,Z. Don't pitch these things, just mention it, this type of thing fits well at the bottom of the last paragraph of a query.

If a new party shows heightened interest, and choooses to request additional material, I think that that is a good time to let them know that you have received multiple requests for your work and that it is in other peoples' hands. That can often grease the reading wheels a little!

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 2:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

For instance, if you request a partial or full from someone who pitches you face-to-face, do you give more time and credence to those submissions than you do to the ones you've requested off an e-mailed query?
No, I don't give priority to submissions received from pitches. At the end of the day it is all about the writing regardless of the way that I have received it. I try to (for the most part) read things in the order that they come in, to equal out response times, and so there really is no preference given.

Sometimes during pitches something might catch my ear and I might jump on it right when it comes in, but this is really no different than if I read a blind query from someone that had an idea that really grabbed me.


What's your batting average? I attend conferences for two reasons. 1 - spread the word about myself and TKA 2 - to find new clients. I have signed on a handful of clients that I have met face to face at conferences. At one event I had a very lovely dinner with some ladies. Down the road, one of the women was looking for an agent. I remembered how much I enjoyed her, how personable she was, how charismatic, and I knew that if her writing was as special as she was we would be a great match. It was, and we are. In this case, had I not met her in person I could have missed out on something because her work may have not leaped out at me right away.

Pitching can be great, but again, if I have said it once, I've said it a million times, at the end of the day the most important thing is networking. And writing a damn good book!

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 2:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

Thanks everyone! Great Questions this week! We probably won't be around for Q&A Thursdays for a few weeks, we are out of the office for the 4th next week, and then at nationals the following. Hopefully the week after that we will be back. And I can only imagine the questions that actually attending nationals might stir up!

Happy 4th everyone, and Happy Convention!

E

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 2:35:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>In this case, had I not met her in person I could have missed out on something because her work may have not leaped out at me right away.

This distresses me, if I’m reading it correctly. I’m not sure why her work wouldn’t have stood out to you—isn’t the evolution of an author-agent based on the writing first? It alludes to an unspoken rule that if you have a bubbly personality and at least a decent book, an agent (some, not all) is more likely to sign you. At conferences, they get a chance to sample the goods, so to speak, before even reviewing a manuscript. Who wouldn’t want a fab gal pal as a client?

I once heard about a psychological study on job interviews. Turns out interviews are the least reliable way to hire quality employees who are well matched for the job, but because of the social interaction & perceptions, job interviewers think they’re getting more information than they really are. This kind of reminds me of that.

I have nothing against networking, and I can understand its enormous benefits (so more power to those who can do it), but I’m sure there are plenty of writers who aren’t so charismatic but who pen great stories. Would you not have remembered them? Or do those great writers beat the competition hands down no matter how charming it is?

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 6:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

When it comes down to it, everything I've seen on any writer-centric blog, forum, advice column, magazine, book, etc is this:

Good writing trumps all. Usually. If you're a total ass and have the personality of a stone, no one will want to work with you, but if you genuinely HAVE the high-quality writing that an agent is looking for? That's ten times more important than any pitch session could ever be.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 11:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ElaineS said...

Anonymous said...

In this case, had I not met her in person I could have missed out on something because her work may have not leaped out at me right away.


Let me clarify one thing briefly. What I meant by that was that it wouldn't have jumped out at me from just the pitch. What I'm trying to get at is that if I hadn't have met her, by the time I read her sample there was a chance someone else could have already read it and i would have missed out because she had already taken other representation. I wasn't talking about the writing quality, I was referring to the factor of making a fast first impression getting the initial read in faster. Does that make sense?

And as to the "gal pal" - I have made a lot of friends in this business that aren't my clients.

I have MANY author pals who are unrepresented or are represented by another agent. I am interested in their career and their success regardless of if I am their agent or not. I don't feel the need to have them on my client list to really want to see them succeed.

I have had the best time with many people but when it comes time to review the work the quality of writing just isnt there yet. I am by no means going to sign someone on just because we had the time of our lives togehter.

As Heather said, at the end of the day, The Writing MUST Be There, no questions asked.

Friday, June 29, 2007 at 8:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Natalie said...

Also, anonymous, keep in mind that though this is a business arrangement, knowing that you like someone and could work with them is an essential element to the partnership--from both sides.

Friday, June 29, 2007 at 2:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

Selective reading...

Sometimes during pitches something might catch my ear and I might jump on it right when it comes in, but this is really no different than if I read a blind query from someone that had an idea that really grabbed me.

Monday, July 2, 2007 at 10:46:00 AM EDT  

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