I arrived early and gave a pitch to literary assistant Anita Mumm. She was incredibly encouraging, asked questions about my MS and requested the first 30 pages. I’m so excited!
I know how difficult it is to get published. She told the conference members her agency received roughly 35,000 queries last year and only signed six! She also shared some very helpful tips about writing queries and proposals. She is the gatekeeper at Nelson Literary Agency. Poorly written queries or manuscripts do not get through her to the agents. While some complained it was impossible to summarize a complete book in only two or three paragraphs, she replied: “Even War and Peace has a blurb.” She encouragess you read the blurbs on the back of books to practice.
D.B. Grady, correspondent for The Atlantic, is an inspiring speaker with a talent for sharing the serious side of the business and then making you laugh. “To write is a sacrifice. When you write, you write alone…Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you, you make it.” He suggests writers must be both an artist and a businessman. "Very rarely does an author write, format, publish, design the cover and market a book all alone. You need a partner."
He is the co-author of Secrets: What You Need to Know About What You’re Not Supposed to Know with Marc Ambinder of National Journal (John Wiley & Sons) which will be released in 2012. His debut novel, Red Planet Noir, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction.
All three speakers agreed the most important thing a writer can do, besides write, is to read – not just what interests you, but a wide array of popular as well as literary fiction and nonfiction. Grady suggested reading John Updike and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mumm suggested Jeffrey Eugenides and Robin McKinley. Harris recommends Graham Greene, Flannery O'Connor, Anee Lamott, Sue Grafton, Raymond Chandler and Michael Chabon.
Meeting all three of these individual was a true pleasure. They were gracious, engaging and very willing to share of themselves.
What have you enjoyed most about the writing conferences you have attended? If you feel you don’t have the time or money to attend one, please check out my “For Writers” page at the top – there is a list of FREE writing conference opportunities.