Newbie at the Conference

Having never been to a writers conference before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

ROLL FANTASY SEQUENCE:  An agent takes to me, finds me to be a brilliant writer, and insists we get my work published.  OR: A small press, looking to make a splash, finds me to be a brilliant writer, and insists we get my work published.


It is Sunday night and I am making dinner and planning to go to work tomorrow.  And probably for a long time to come.  However, there is hope.

Seminars on “Writing in Third-Person Intimate Point of View”, “Revising Fiction:  Making Sense of the Madness”, “How to Make a Living Writing Non-Fiction”, and “Publishing Short Fiction” were presented by published authors, freelance writers, and educators.  They offered a well-rounded variety of subject matter that most certainly appealed to the attendees, whatever their genre might have been or their degree of skill as writers or publication history.

I had two 10-minute consultations regarding issues specific to my needs.  With Charles Salzberg ( I discussed whether to continue to pursue an agent for a dark comedy novel or seek out a small press that might be more inclined to publish something off-beat.  With Kirt Hickman (, we discussed the labels of HERO and ANTAGONIST in another novel in which moral ambiguity is shaded.  These gentlemen were as specific as they could be given the fact that they did not have the manuscript in hand.  They were courteous and encouraging.

More than anything there was the chance to see old friends and acquaintances and make new ones.  The process of writing, in and of itself, is rather solitary in nature.  The task of finding an agent/editor/publisher is arduous and daunting.  But networking to me means communicating with those who understand your plight and encourage you to carry on.

In that regard, the day was an utter success.



  1. jenniferneri said,

    March 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Sounds great, tikiman! I am happy for you.


  2. lawrenceez said,

    March 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Sounds promising.


  3. David I said,

    April 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Sounds like it was fun, even if you didn’t get “discovered.”

    If you ever want to attend a real pressure-cooker of a conference, try the San Diego Writers Conference (the one by San Diego State University–there are three different San Diego Conferences every year). Usually about forty agents taking pitches or doing advance reads. Happens in February, but usually all the good pitch sessions are sold out in October.

    SDSU is where I met my former agent (who I then parted ways with, but she was a top agent–just not a good agent for me.) And I know of several writers who met their agents there.

    The Advance Reads from editors are also fun, and each editor gives an Editors Choice Award for the best ms they read. I admit–blushing, of course–that I won one of them; that and a buck-fifty will get you a coffee at Starbucks. But the best thing is that editors might ask you for the full manuscript. I had this happen three times–Penguin, Random House, and S&S–and although it didn’t result in a sale, it resulted in editors reading my work at houses that normally only take submissions through agents; and two of those editors told me I could submit future work directly to them.

    Of course, going to conferences isn’t cheap, especially if you have to travel far. But the right conference can be worth quite a lot in the long run.


  4. tikiman1962 said,

    April 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Great info, David. And great thanks. The travel part is what gets me the most. Being in Wichita, KS, working for AT&T and their extremely restricted “vacation” policies, leaves with weekend excursions to possible places with driving distance on a Friday night. Nebraska has a summer writer’s conference. Missouri has one or two and I believe there is a decent conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    That being said, coordinating all this and “life” is enough to cause me to increase my meds. However, I recognize the importance of “networking”.
    I do have one question: Can you actually still get coffee for $1.50 at Starbucks?


  5. David I said,

    April 6, 2010 at 9:39 am

    “Can you actually still get coffee for $1.50 at Starbucks?”

    You can here in Huntington Beach–if you go for straight-up drip coffee in the smallest size.

    Nobody tells you when you start in this racket that the really difficult part will be the industry side of the equation. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. But no paths are beat to our doors becasue we’ve written a novel, no matter how good…


  6. mark said,

    April 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

    HB: I’m finally getting around after the KWA conference. Re-discovered your business card! Nice website/blog here. I’m at if you’re poking around.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: