All things considered, I thought it was a great success.
I have to say, I found the keynote speaker on Friday, a Mr. Steve Barry, best selling author, to be awesome and hilarious. Very inspirational, and I am so glad to know that I’m not the only one writing to satisfy the voices in my head.
As for the second speaker, the author of “The Deep End of the Ocean” Oprah’s first book club selection, I have to say, the story was .
.. inspirational? In the I’m kind of glad I’m not you, and am really glad I know not to invest all my future millions in Michigan kind of way. Also, it kind of made me want to adopt an Ethiopian kid and never ever take a mud bath…
As for the rest of the conference, it was exactly what I thought it would be: a resource for those who wish to be published authors. The scary thing is that I – ME – got high jacked in the hallway by other attendees. Why? Why would an unpublished author get high jacked in a hallway?
Because I had an agent. Apparently this means I have magical super-awesome psychic powers or something. I got quizzed by people about my business cards, my clothes, and my – get this – reasons for returning. As in, “You have what this is for, so why come back again?”. Now because I hung out in the hospitality suite, I got to sit in on all the agents’ gab. Here’s what these two experiences, correlated, have taught me:
Agents SEE, FEEL, and BREATHE your desperation. They’ve gotten so good at sensing rejection that if you come at them a certain way, they can probably tell you EXACTLY how many times you’ve been turned down by other agents, who those agents were, and what color shirt they were wearing at the time. Hang back, focus on your writing. Get it where it needs to be. When that happens, you won’t need them, and that’s when they’ll come to you.
They’ll high jack you in a bathroom and ask you what you write, or over a beer ask if you have representation when you tell them. Which, yes, happened to me. Exude confidence, but the best and quickest way to do this: write well, so that your work can speak for itself, then you won’t have to.
I’m a terrible sales person. I hate it. That’s why I’m always the one in the corner cracking jokes.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned from this years’ extravaganza? You can be a writer and a person, but keep the facebook pages separate. Maintain professionalism. When you’re in public, you are your work and your work is you; which incidentally means you can be funny, but you damn well better be charming too. Friends cannot be trusted to represent you well, especially when they’re offered free cocktails.
Also…now that I think about it…cute shoes make a huge impression, especially if you can manage NOT to look like you’re in pain while wearing them. It’s almost like a penis-measuring competition, minus the machismo and bravado. “Ha ha, I can wear heels and run up stairs!”
The secret is Dr. Scholls.