Tuesday, October 24, 2006

After the conference...

If someone were to conduct an 'exit poll' of writing conference participants , to see who had been invited by editors and agents to formally submit their work to them, and then they were to conduct another at the beginning of the conference the following year, I wonder how many writers they'd find had followed through on such invitations.

Not many, I'd bet.

I know the feeling. You plan your pitch, perfect your elevator speech so that when you run into anyone anywhere - the washroom, lunch line-up, or at the bar - you can give them a good, clear idea of the compelling project you're working on. You manage to do it almost word-perfectly at the agent's or editor's appointment. They say the right things, and give you their card. Tell you to send three chapters and a synopsis, the whole thing, tell you to contact them as soon as the conference is over.

Then you go home.

Where you look at the work again, and start to get some doubts, or get swamped by all the laundry or dirty dishes that accumulated while you were at the conference, get sidelined by everything in your Inbox when you get back to work, start to think about Christmas that will be here sooner than you think....

.... and soon you've let this chance slip by.

Don't.

Years ago I pitched a YA novel to a senior editor of a reputable children's publisher. She listened closely, got quite excited, then told me that she didn't handle YA work. But her colleague did. Here was his card. I was not to wait. I was to call him on Monday. I was to explain I'd talked to her and that she'd told me to contact him and that I would be sending him an outline and three chapters as soon as I put down the phone.

Did I?

Hell, no. Even through the story outline was well-developed and I had about 120 good pages and the topic was timely, I got cold feet.

That book, Jimmy's River, sits in my file.

Meanwhile, I've published articles and short stories, contributed to anthologies, won contests.

Now I'm working on my novel Who Do You Wish Was With Us. This time next year it will be done and I'll be pitching itat the Surrey Writers' Conference. And if I'm asked to submit the work to anyone, I'll do it.

If an agent or editor showed interest in your work at the Surrey international Writers Conference which ended just one week ago, follow up on their invitation. You'll be one of the few that do.

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