I went to the SFWC and it was wonderful. Worth every penny. When I originally found out about it years ago, it would have been such a foolish thing to try to show up. I’m really glad that I knew myself well enough to gauge when I would be ready to head to a professional conference. Any earlier, and I wouldn’t have had a promising product to pitch. I attended a lot of fantastic panels, speakers, talks, and a few events that gave me feedback on my pitch and first page. I got to sit with agents at lunch, meet other young adult authors between sessions, and talk to a few different editors about my work. I also had a chance to pitch my project to agents.
So, for those of you who aren’t up to speed on the literary industry, here’s a few quick facts. There are FIVE major publishers in the US, and these are responsible for 80% of trade books. If you walk into a book store or library, four out of every five books are going to come from one of five publishers. Authors don’t get talk to these publishers. They need to get an agent to make the call for them. There are too many authors out there; publishers filter them by only looking at those who have agents.
I’ve been trying to get an agent by explaining my project since my junior year of high school. I didn’t know what I was doing back then, I didn’t know how to write, and I certainly wasn’t ready for publication. A lot has changed since then. However, almost a hundred queries later, I still don’t have an agent.
I stopped sending out queries a few months ago to regroup and think about my plan. I decided to go to the San Francisco Writing Conference because I thought I might come across better in person than I do on paper. Even if my writing is good, agents see a lot of good writing. I wanted to convey my energy and enthusiasm in a way that, quite frankly, I just can’t do on paper.
Presenting to them was just like going through the motions of DECA competition all over again. I felt in my element, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. While I’m sure it would be unprofessional to talk about the details, suffice to say I had an agent request the first fifty or so pages of my manuscript. This is a fantastic step forward for me, and if they like what they read, they will (hopefully) request the full manuscript. I’ve got my fingers crossed that someone will think the book as a whole is saleable and offer to represent me. In the meantime, I’ve got to be building my platform and readership. Brace yourself for more blogs. Things are going well, and I don’t think its so outrageous to think that they might keep on heading upwards.
Wish me luck.