The Getting Published Blues
I attended my fifth Writers League of Texas panel event in as many months on Thursday evening. This was held a week before their 38th Annual Agents & Editors Conference. Although I signed up to volunteer and attend some sessions, currently I am on a wait list. Regular readers know I’m a struggling unpaid blogger and author of a memoir about two years of biking 10,000 miles. But it’s a book in progress with no advance from a publisher. I’d sure like to go, so keep reading and learn how you can help!
I am close to finishing the first draft, but then have to find people to read it and comment, do major revisions, and so on. Basically, there’s still a ton of work before it’s ready to be submitted. There’s a good chance it won’t be accepted, so I may have to self-publish it. That’s why the conference could be a gold mine of contacts and information. At the rate of $519, I’m not able to pay my own way. However, if 50 followers of this blog chipped in $10 each (or 10 followers each gave $50), I could go. Read until the end if you’re interested in that.
Practice Makes Pitch Perfect
The presentation, titled “Practice Makes Pitch Perfect,” was about how to sell your book either in person at the conference, or in what’s called a query letter.
Lance Fitzgerald is VP, Director of Subsidiary Rights at Penguin Random House from New York. He flew in again this year to do an interactive presentation with the WLT Executive Director Becka Oliver on how to pitch your book to an agent or editor. oversees rights sales for 450 books annually. He has over two decades experience in subsidiary rights, having also been Director of Rights for Simon & Schuster and Penguin.
The list of New York Times best-selling authors he has worked with includes Marie Kondo, President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, President George W Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mary Higgins Clark, Tom Clancy, and Deepak Chopra. So he kinda knows what he’s talking about.
Becka Oliver has her own impressive biography. She has over 16 years of experience working in book publishing. She spent much of her publishing career at Macmillan and Hachette Book Group, licensing domestic and foreign rights on behalf of countless notable authors, including Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, Nicholas Sparks, Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, and more. She made the leap from Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at Grand Central Publishing to Literary Agent, first at Endeavor and then at William Morris Endeavor (WME) after their merger. As a literary agent, Becka represented clients working in both fiction and non-fiction. She’s been head of WLT since 2013.
The Four Parts of a Pitch
This is an overview of the notes I took about Lance and Becka’s presentation about the components of a pitch, whether it’s done in writing or in person:
CONNECTION: At a conference, this is already assumed. But in a letter or email, be sure not to waste the agent’s time. Read up in advance what sort of books they represent and are looking for. Listen to them speak on a panel and if you get a chance to talk to them, repeat their words and relate them to your book.
CONTEXT: Know the genre of the agent, as well as yours as the author. This should be place early in the query letter. One should definitely read other books in the genre, but don’t make extreme or lofty comparisons to them, like, “My book the next Harry Potter meets The Incredibles movies.”
COMPEL: Pick one or two of the categories below to grab the attention of the agent. Condense them to one paragraph. Use what matters and is the most relevant to the particular agent (which you should have researched in advance). Note: Weird things may not work.
- Who: Choose 1-2 main characters and say a few words about them.
- Where: Pick a location from the book that is interesting.
- When: This is the period it is set in, what type of future, etc.
- What: A romance, a thriller… or my book: I rode my bike 10,000 miles in two years.
CREDENTIALS: These are important for nonfiction, memoir excepted. But if it is a subject-based book, they are important. The example they used was a science book (that was also a lot of memoir) about octopus. The author should know a lot about them, e.g., have a marine biology degree, won some research grants, published studies, etc.
There was a lot more information, examples, questions and answers that there isn’t space for here. But I learned a lot and am energized for the time when I am ready to pitch A Dude Abikes: The Book to someone in the publishing industry.
The 2019 Agents & Editors Conference
The conference is next weekend, June 28-30. Here’s more info from http://www.WritersLeague.org:
The Writers’ League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference is one of the nation’s premier conferences for writers, bringing together more than 20 nationally-known agents and editors with award-winning and bestselling authors for three days of conversation about the craft of writing and the practical steps toward publication.
For writers with finished manuscripts, the conference’s one-on-one consultations with agents and editors offer a unique opportunity to pitch their work directly to publishing professionals.
For writers working toward a complete manuscript, the conference’s evening receptions offer a friendly, relaxed atmosphere for informal chats with agents, published authors, and fellow writers from all genres and backgrounds.
The conference’s panels and presentations offer specific, practical advice about: polishing opening pages, solving endings, writing query letters, choosing and working with an agent, the writer/editor relationship, and marketing books before and after they hit the shelves.— Writers League of Texas website
Sounds great, right? Maybe $519 will fall out of the sky before June 28th. (Actually, it’s a bit more to attend some of the other events.) If not, there’s next year. Perhaps a volunteer will drop out at the last minute or someone will cancel and they might offer me their spot. Another option is this:
If you are a fan of this blog (and blogger) and are in a position to help send A Dude Abikes to the WLT A&E conference, please Gmail me at ADudeAbikes ASAP! If enough people are interested, I’ll let you know how to pitch in. Thanks for your consideration.
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