I have always hated the term wanna-be and why take it on when we live in a Nike age where we just go out and do it. Publish yourself! Create your own readership! Do your own social media marketing! No more trying to push into the gatekeeper realm of literary agents to whom you have less than a 1% chance of getting a contract or a publishing deal with. That’s all very well and good and many of us are really happy we did just that, but what if you really do have a great project for traditional publishing, and you really have thought about it and don’t want to do the self publishing route (this time), and what if you have tried the traditional submissions route and after a good chunk of time on twenty agents and publishers websites (who all told you it would take six weeks to hear back about your submission), you heard back from exactly one and it was a rejection.
My advice: Don’t Give Up!
And, I have an option for you… a face to face pitch session with an agent (or publisher). The best place to do this is at a writer’s conference who offers these. If you live in Vancouver you are in luck! You may not know that we have one of the top ten writing conferences in the world right here… well in Surrey. Yes in Surrey, the much maligned suburb of Vancouver. In the third weekend of October begins the SIWC (Surrey International Writer’s Conference) on a Friday (Thursday for Master classes). It happens at exactly the same time as the Vancouver Writer’s Fest and that is no coincidence. Ed Griffin, founder of the conference (beloved Ed died last year), told me that he had tempted some of the authors who were up for that event to come to Surrey and do workshops thus giving them two events to travel to B.C. for. In any event (pun intended), SIWC was born and started to grow and eventually capped out at 600+ participants. 2017 will be its 25th year and with a conference package you get to have one “pitch” meeting with an agent or editor/publisher as well as a consulting meeting (called blue pencils) with a presenting writer.
Now some time ago I had started going pretty religiously to SIWC. I love, love, love all writing conferences for the connection to my soul sister and brother writers. I feel among my people, but let’s not ignore that we go to learn and also to get published. For me, I guess I learned my lessons over the years because after a few years of tanking at my “pitch” sessions I finally started to ace them. Which means, I started to consistently get agents asking for my chapters, multiple agents too. Other writers were impressed. I had figured out how to pitch well. Then I started coaching other writers who had book projects and they had success too. Even if the pitch session didn’t ultimately result in a deal this was easier, more educational and more fun than emailing things in and hoping and praying.
The plus side to the conference is there are workshops at the conference on how to pitch, how to write query letters and construct book proposals. The negative side is that they happen at the conference and are not much use to you before you go in and pitch at that conference. You really need weeks and months to prepare for that great opportunity, and you need to know a few tricks too. For example:
- Who do you choose to see?
- What do you do when the agent says they are looking for an upmarket project?
- How do you get multiple sessions when you were only given one with your conference package?
- Do you admit that you have been self published before?
- Do you read to them or give them some of your writing to read?
- Do you try to pitch an unfinished book?
There are many things to learn and prepare. So I am trolling here to see if there are any writers who would be interested if the VSW arranges a low-cost facilitated Pitch Success Workshop where participants can also help each other out to prepare and even compare notes afterward. So please give us your interest level by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Pitch Success.” This workshop would start in August or early September I am thinking, but can be flexible on days and times. We would need a minimum of 4 people, preferably 6 to 8. By the way, you have two more days (June 10), to get the early bird prices of the Surrey International Writer’s Conference and it is already starting to sell out on certain days. Even if you don’t want to pitch I can highly recommend it and I will see you there. You see, after years of being successful as an indie author I have a project that I want to go the traditional route.
Author of Writing with Cold Feet
PS – Don’t have that book far enough along? Why not sign up for our Mexico How To Write and Publish Writer’s Retreat. Get out of winter, get your writing done, bond with other writers and have fun too!