"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Bridge to Publication – BWG Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the Bayou Writers Group conference yesterday. What an amazing shot of adrenaline to the writing muse!
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.

Mark Harris, columnist for Entertainment Weekly, has been writing about pop culture since 1985.  “No one likes a writer who says the same thing. Look for subjects that have the potential to surprise you and the reader.” He went on to explain that if you write about something you wouldn’t normally, you will learn a lot about your critical thinking and how you judge. “Don’t be afraid to risk being wrong.”
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.


Lorelei Bell said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time, Sylvia. Crossing my fingers for you!

The only ones I've gone to were "mini" and a one-day class. Both I had to pay for. Turns out I and one other person were the only ones who had been published (in magazines, newspaper)! I think after realizing I seemed to know more than the people in the class, I quit going to these mini ones. I can't afford the big-name ones. I'm not sure I'd be able to get away to them, anyway.

Kittie Howard said...

Congratulations, Sylvia! I think Opportunity just knocked on your door. Keep the tea pot at the ready.

Like you, I enjoy the variety of speakers. Each brings something special. Taken as a whole, it's a fantastic experience.

jan said...

I try to get to 2 or 3 conferences a year. I love meeting people in person after following them on-line, esp. the agents and authors. I also enjoy meeting other writers and sharing stories and ideas with them.

Good luck now that the door is open for you!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like some great speakers. Conferences always get my muse up and running too.

Jessica Ferguson said...

Had fun hanging out with you at the conference. Hope the agent loves your ms., requests the complete, signs you and SELLS you!
Fingers crossed!

Sylvia Ney said...

Thank you all for your well wishes. I know the odds are difficult. I'm just excited to be doing something with it finally. No more dust bunnies on this MS! ;-)