To Be Remembered

To be remembered is a piece of advice that Sandi imparted upon me, and while at our big writer’s conference this past summer, I learned first hand the appropriate, not bumbling, ways to make an impact with the proper approach…

1.  Dress the part:  Case in point…there was a lovely young woman who wore a bold striped skirt of various colors, with a geometrical patterned blouse that clashed on every account.  Now even I do not own Garanimals, but instead of her trend choice being a fashion faux pas, she did what?  Exactly, she stood out and even today is being remembered.  If I can’t get her out of my mind, think of the agents she sat in front of to pitch.  Her outfit was not obscene in any way shape or form, just far from ordinarily boring.

1a.  Play the part:  Characters from your book?  Different culture?  use it to your advantage, make  your characters work for you.  Sell your story.  When was dress- up ever boring?

1b.  As a dithering and enthusiastic entrepreneur of the written word, I will not be one to make such an emboldened choice when it comes to my apparel, but there is another option that could make a lasting impression:  added stand-out, look-at-me jewelry, scarves, belts, man bags.  These are choices for the faint of heart.

1c.  If you opt out of colorful clothing possibilities then have an intriguing personal bio, make your background a great story of its own.  We all can make a great impression by being professional as we demonstrate endearing traits of our personalities.

Another awesome case in point…the first night of our stay a beautiful woman stated in our peer group, in front of a panel of agents, that she was a retired Disney Princess.  Now how does one compete with that?  It should have been my cue to exit stage right.

2.  Pitching to agents at any conference is a huge piece, if you so choose, but the last thing I would like to say about our first experience is to take advantage of all the great information and classes offered at these events.  It is invaluable, and you have paid for the information, do not leave short. Network with other authors and enjoy this amazing experience.

3.  As in all things of life, be wary, there are still those nasty individuals who are busily looking to take advantage of our delicate egos and complete inexperience in the industry.

Keep writing,

Jessica 🙂

A bit of a back track from Sandi

My emotion about agents was a direct reaction to our experience on February 20th. I dislike any opinion that paints a group with a broad stroke.  That’s what I did, and I apologize. Agents have an incredible job with volume alone, culling the unacceptable first pages from the great ones; then being enthused about the genre as well as the writing style to sell it; and they are individuals making a living with their own criteria and circumstances.

With that said, facial expressions that deepen the bite for the denigrated writer are unprofessional. One agent, a a scrawny, self important, over confident twit, was appallingly rude! Sharing one’s writing is as vulnerable as standing naked in front of a group of 8th grade boys.

Agents have a library of helpful advice to share, and we are ready to listen.  We pay for our individual time with them or for a conference; is it too much to expect a tidbit or two? Your attention for 10 minutes @ $30?  We might be the one to make you rich. How many published authors have you turned away who made money for someone else?

The number of hoops to jump through and then land on one’s feet is larger than I ever would  have guessed. Kindness goes a long way as we find our way. Thank you to those agents who offer constructive suggestions. We writers appreciate you!

Moving on: A nugget I learned about editing was to enlist editing from people who are smarter than you and avoid friends and family.  I learned the hard way when my husband read a chapter and had nothing to say.  His comment was, “I didn’t know what to say.” Another hint was to circle adverbs and “state of being verbs” in your draft and find stronger verbs . As we have heard many times, show not tell.

Pages to write, so off I go!

Just in Case, this is Your FIRST time

“You are living your dream.”  One of my best friends just recently reminded me of this and they are 100% correct.  This is my dream.  Writing is what I have always wanted to do, and I am now 6 months into my journey.  I have journals since I was a teenager and college creative writing course papers’ that commend my passion, but remind me, I have a lot of work to do in polishing my energies. My Nana used to have a stone polisher?

In my own environment, I am not a shy girl, but when it comes to writing EVERY insecurity possibly known to mankind comes to the surface; shortness of breath, shaking, slurred speech, cold sweats and talking faster than a speeding bullet.

Here comes my first big piece of advice, something I even taught my kids, “Life is an acting job.”  This comes in handy when you are at your most vulnerable. And, I learned this again after this past summer’s conference.  The second snippet of wisdom is, “Be Remembered.”  Thank you Sandi!

I think I accomplished this in all the wrong ways…wah, wanh, wah!  I promise… my second time, I will be sooo much better.  🙂

And so…here we go…My first experience pitching to agents…Need I remind you, I have never had a problem making a fool of myself and owning it like a true professional.

  1. 10 minutes is a long, painstaking time to make a complete ID 10 T of yourself.  Even if your acting is polished where your writing is not.
  2. Know your genre.  You must know this so you can pitch to the right agents of that subclass and as Sandi has explained can be a difference of agency opinion. I, unfortunately, believed my genre was Romantic Fantasy, GONG!  I was quickly informed it is Paranormal Romance, that trended to be the going theme, and so, I am running with it.
  3. Do your research on who you are pitching to and what they are specifically looking for. You must go beyond the conference bio’s.  I had the pleasure of sitting with a nice gentleman whose genre base could not have been further from that of my manuscript, (Has anyone heard of graphic novel? Yeah, me either until that most unfortunate moment.) F M L, serious typo in the conference documents.  Too bad for slimy handed, good smelling, stuttering moi’, but I did remember to bring my best smile and polite exit.  No, I didn’t get my money back.
  4. If you are writing romance and seeking representation from an agent, your manuscript must be a minimum of 80,000 words, or they will blankly wonder why you are sitting in front of them, mine was 65,000, much better to have to add to a story, than to trim off.  I think I threw up in my throat a little.
  5. Self-publishing has a completely different rule book.  1 stumbling step at a time.

And all this, only 30 minutes of a 3 day event.  Life is good.

After a Writer’s Conference

As Jessica and I drove home from an especially full day of sitting and listening and sitting some more to agents give their two cents review of authors’ first pages, we had “thoughts” about the agents’ manners and behaviors. You know the look of disdain at taking up their time or the sneer at the first line. Needless to say, we critiqued them and pleased ourselves with our witty repartee. Thus our whiny blog idea was formed.  The road to publishing is crammed with traffic and full of potholes: my favorite experience is 2 of 4 agents said my genre was narrative nonfiction and 2 others told me it was a novel based on a true story.  Oh, well…Go forth and complain!  Sandi