Opperknockity Tunes But Once

Pulled from the comment line up on "Turkey" was this from a snarkling:

What I'm wondering is why he was attending a conference and participating in one-on-one time with writers, when he isn't even accepting new clients??I find that very odd.

and it brings up a very good point (but not the one the snarkling thought she was making)

This is the original question on the post:

I recently attended a relatively small book festival (small compared to, say, the National Book Festival). It was community-based, and the proceeds went to area charities and scholarships. Included in the schedule of events was the opportunity to reserve a one-on-one appointment with an editor, publisher, or agent. The appointments lasted for ten minutes, and during that time individuals could ask questions about publishing or even pitch an idea.

What's important to realize is that the Snarkling was attending a book festival not a writing conference. As such it's entirely possible that agents and editors will be there who are not looking for new clients. The Festival organizers were slack by listing all the things you could do in your one on one meeting and NOT double-checking that some agents and editors weren't looking to build up their list. This is what happens in those hodge podge things that don't have a focus. Hear a reading, pitch your novel, buy a caramel apple all on a Sunday afternoon. As entertainment it's great. As a professional conference...well, it's NOT a professional conference so I shouldn't take them to task for not behaving like one.

This brings me to my point: look at the event menus carefully when you sign up. Is it focused on craft? Look for editors. Is it focused on pitching? Look for agents. Is it focused on having a good time and talking about books? Leave your manuscript at home and just enjoy the day. BUT...keep your eye peeled. Take advantage of one on one meetings even if they turn out to be useless.

One of my favorite stories is about the singer Madonna, here in NYC in the early 80's. She was a real party animal and frequented LOTS of dance clubs. She always carried her demo tape with her on the chance she'd run into someone looking for new artists. She "never left home without it".

That's a good model to follow. Not carrying your manuscript around, but always be ready for opportunity. Some of the things that look like opportunity... i.e. this meeting with Agent Man who turned out to be a turkey...won't be. But, you never know.

Are you ready for opportunity to knock?


Bernita said...

And jerk that he may have been, his presence was to benefit a charity.

Dave Kuzminski said...

One good thing I can say about a number of conferences, conventions, and book festivals is that they do check who they're booking. Occasionally, someone slimy gets by, but that's because their camouflage was still in perfect working order. How do I know that they check? Because I've received a lot of emails from various events asking if P&E had any information they needed to be aware of concerning the agents they wanted as guests.

Bunneh said...

To be fair, AgentMan wasn't slimy, per se. I did a bit of research before signing up for the one-on-one, and found him (and the agency) very easily. Though I do agree that the book-fair coordinators didn't do their homework as well as they could have. Participants got no idea what sorts of things they could ask these folks. I consider myself lucky to have had a decent experience with my other appointment (with Editor-Guy), who was willing to take the submission packet I brought -- asked for it, even. I 'm keeping my expectations low for a variety of reasons (among them the fact that the manuscript isn't finished), but Editor-Guy was still polite and professional.

AgentMan wasn't a slimeball, exactly. He was just condescending, patronizing, and a bit of, well, a turkey. He gave good advice, as Miss Snark pointed out. Unfortunately, the fact that he had the interpersonal skills of a rock got in the way of the good advice.

And of the two bits of advice he gave me, one of them I follow anyway -- the reading part. The other bit of advice was communicated more clearly by Miss Snark -- query the agents of the authors who interest you. That's more helpful, particularly since AgentTurkey didn't mention the part where other agents might be looking for new writers to represent (and those agents possibly being willing to recommend other agents, and so on).

Bill Peschel said...

At the Philly Bouchercon, I recognized Donald Maass, Anne Perry's agent and writer of several useful books, even though he wasn't wearing a con badge and wasn't on the attendees list. He was gracious, appreciated my words about his books and gave me his business card. I didn't follow up since I had nothing ready to show him, but it's true that you never know what can happen out there.

Jamie said...

I was born ready.