Live and In Person! Miss Snark!
Could you say a few words about the value of meeting with agents at conferences rather than querying them by mail? Why would agents want to do this? What do they get from five minutes with a potential client at a conference that is better than what they get in a query letter? It seems kind of inefficient to me, but what do I know?
First of all, if efficiency is the yardstick, most of publishing fails miserably. This is not an efficient industry because it's so subjective. You KNOW that an SUV gets crappy gas mileage and what the insurance company is going to charge you to put the beast in your barn before you buy, but books aren't so easily evaluated or rated.
But I digress.
I despise writing conferences. I go only under threat of death. (Threat of death means someone I like begs me.)
Which brings me to why I hate writing conferences. There's hardly any opportunity for real, or helpful feedback. Remember the story in the comments section below about an agent who was asked to review pages during lunch? And did! And then the author told the agent why he was wrong? Not an anomaly that tale.
I've been to writing conferences when people stopped me on my way to the ladies room to talk to me. I've been to writing conferences that auction off a lunch date with you to anyone who wins. And you have to sit there with a total stranger one on one and listen to their story cause they've paid HUNDREDS of dollars to be there. Yikes.
I've been to writing conferences so hell bent on making money they book 15 minute appointments from 9am to 5pm with a half hour off for lunch...which they don't want to pay for.
Mind you, agents are NOT paid to attend. Our expenses are covered but trust me, an all expense paid trip to Beautiful Downtown NOT-NYC is not a place I want to be.
The good thing about conferences is that it's about the only way to actually see an agent face to face unless you have one. And that's a good thing if only to realize we aren't all caped and bulletproof (excluding Miss Snark of course, who is).
I think it humanizes an aspect of the industry that does its best to be daunting to writers. And meeting an agent gives you an idea of the discord between what they say on their site and what they are like in person. (Miss Snark doesn't actually BREATHE fire, she just has to be careful with her gin soaked exhalations and Bic flickers.)
yes it's inefficient. yes its a pain in the ass. But it's pretty much the only game in town.
They're almost useless for finding clients, but I do know agents who have.