So, why go?

Dear Miss Snark,

Love the blog. Read it every day, sometimes twice a day. You're addictive.

You make conferences sound pretty hellish for agents, and somewhere along the line I think you said you almost never pick up a new client at a conference. Why go at all, then? It doesn't seem like a good use of your time ... unless perhaps you have a friend in the city where the conference is, or you're getting paid real money to show up, not just reimbursement for travel.

Until the advent of the blogosphere, going to conferences was about the only way to interact with people who were potential clients and give workshops and classes on "how to query" and the like. Given this blog is less than two years old, that change over is in its infancy and many agents go to conferences to do exactly that. It's a lot more efficient to teach a class than just say "no, this isn't right" on a gazillion query letters.

Some agents do find clients at conferences. I'm pretty sure Kristin Nelson mentioned she had (but, again, she's nicer than Miss Snark, people aren't afraid of her).

I also go cause it's fun to talk to the other agents. We do have a good time at these conferences and never you mind how much gin is swilled.

And much as I complain about leaving the 212, I have seen some very nice places out in the world, courtesy of writers conferences. Buffalo. Fargo. Butte. Bumblebee, Arkansas.


Brenda said...

I know it's very rare that authors and agents team up at conferences over a book, but I'm so thankful that agents continue to attend. In fact, using Miss Snark's example, I heard Kristen Nelson in a session last year, and it shot her up on my "I WANT HER!" list. I've had the reverse happen as well. More than once, I've had someone on my hopeful-agent-list and then removed based on hearing them at conferences. It gives us a good view into their personalities, their principles, their quirks, and I find that priceless.

I love that so many agents have blogs now, but nothing is like hearing them talking to a group, or interacting with other agents, or even seeing their facial expressions and hearing their accents. It makes them "real".

And never under-estimate networking. Publishing is a small, intimate little world. Conferences are a networking goldmine.

Linda Maye Adams said...

Here's a lesson I learned from the first conference, where I pitched to a very nice agent who got along great with me and my co-writer. And you know something? That didn't make one iota of difference in getting our foot in the door. You know why? Because the story still needs to work right in the first place, and ours didn't. Even a referral from a close friend of the agent's wouldn't have worked because the story couldn't stand up on its own. Ultimately, what a conference does is get you past the immediate slush pile, but that won't make a bit of difference if the story doesn't work in the first place. It still needs to shine.

The Rejected Writer said...

"Publishing is a small, intimate little world."

Incestuous. Brenda, the word you're looking for is incestuous.

Anonymous said...

Linda makes a great point.

Poodle Girl

CJ Omololu said...

I found my agent at a conference last year. The trick: I didn't pitch her my book.

Anonymous said...

Yellow Springs in the summer if full of colorful characters - we'd love to see you at the Antioch Writers Workshop!

Who knows, I might even get to be your chauffeur from our scenic post-industrial blight to our little hippie village ion the woods that gave the world Dave Chappelle.