There’s nothing like going to a weekend-long writers’ conference to light a fire under your keister. And let me tell you…after attending the Writers’ League of Texas annual Agents & Editors Conference, I. Am. Fired. Up!!
In my last conference post I mentioned how crucial they are to a writer’s career. Well, this conference in particular gives you front-and-center access to a whole slew of agents and editors all on the lookout for new talented writers with fresh new voices!
But instead of writing quick recaps of all the different breakout sessions I attended (since all the information would take me days to write out!) I’ll give you a quick rundown of the conference.
The Genre Sessions
The conference started off with two one-hour sessions of various genre meet-ups, including Science Fiction/Fantasy, Horror, MG/YA/Picture books, Memoir, Historical Fiction, General Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, etc. During these sessions, two moderators that were published in this genre would lead various discussions. Their topics ranged any where from what defined the genre to how to snag agents and editors’ attention in this type of genre.
Not only did the mods give you great insight to the publishing end of your genre, but these sessions were a great chance to meet conference buddies! During the meet-ups you could connect with fellow writers in your genre and swap notes later on about the different breakout sessions you went to. And, eventually, conference buddies could end up being great critique partners!
The Pitch Lab
After the genre sessions, it was off to the Pitch Lab. Because this conference was specifically designed to bring in agents and editors and allow writers to pitch their books to them during consultations and cocktail receptions, the Writers’ League knew how important it was for these writers to know how to pitch. So they created an informal setting for writers to join mini groups and practice their pitches to fellow writers, and get feedback to hone their pitch for an agent’s ears.
The Cocktail Receptions
On both Friday and Saturday evening, a large cocktail reception was set up in the great ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas for the industry professionals and attendees. With wine and hor d’oeuvres in a low-lighted casual setting, attendees could meet and chat and secretly scope out the agents and editors they wanted to approach for a quick elevator pitch. It was during these cocktail receptions that many writers gathered their courage thanks to a glass of wine and gave agents their elevator pitch for their book, often walking away with a business card and a request to see sample chapters!
Throughout the conference, consultations with agents were held at the top floor of the hotel. When you signed up for the conference you had the opportunity to purchase a one-on-one consultation with an agent of your choice (because space was limited you had to provide a second and third choice) and meet with them for ten minutes to either pitch your book or ask questions about your work or the publishing industry in general. It was a great way to get their undivided attention and ensure a chance to really sell your book.
The Breakout Sessions / Presentations
I could go on and on about the many, many breakout sessions hosted at this conference but, like I said, that could take days. The important thing to remember about these sessions is that each one had amazing panelists of seasoned authors and industry professionals, and were a great opportunity to learn, take notes, and connect with fellow writers.
A few that I attended were:
- Business: Identify Your Audience and Market Your Book
- Craft: Creating Compelling Characters
- Business: The Business for Writing for Children and Young Adults
- Craft: The Art of Suspense in Mysteries and Thrillers
- Business: From Acquisition to Shelf: Inside a Publishing House
- Business: Becoming Your Own PR Person
- Craft: Writing Great Books for Young Adults
Meeting Fabulous Fellow Writers
Besides getting the chance to pitch to agents and editors, one of the best things about this conference is the ability to meet fantastic authors, critique partners, and future friends! It’s such a joy to sit at breakfast, or grab a glass of wine at the cocktail receptions, or connect during a break, with a fellow writer who is just as passionate about books and writing as you are. Even though essentially you are networking with other people in your industry, it feels less like work and more like simply making new friends and talking about what you love. Everyone is there for the same goal: to get published and be a better writer—there’s no need to be shy!