Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Lessons Learned from My First Writer's Conference - Part 1
To sum up what I learned at the South Carolina Writer's Workshop annual conference would be that this? This business? Of writing? Yeah, it's TOTALLY subjective. What one person might LOVE another person might HATE.
I sat through one particular class called a slush-fest, which basically boils down to a real-time critique of the first 2 pages of your manuscript (or some people chose their query letter and first page of their ms). They collected everyone's submissions as they walked through the door and then placed them up on an overhead projector to rip them to shreds. Or at least, that's what I THOUGHT would happen, seeing as how that's what I had heard happened in those sorts of situations.
Not so with this one. The editor* was totally gracious to her audience, saying mostly what she liked about everyone's work with a small suggestion here or there about what could improve. There was no yelling, no "What were they thinking?", no "Wow, that was awful." None of that. That is, until she got to the very last submission, and guess whose it was?
She read it aloud, as she did the twenty or so before it, and when she got to the end (we were running short on time) she said, "I like the voice, good idea, but THESE BOOKS AREN'T SELLING."
I'm sorry, WHAT? Could you repeat that?
Needless to say, I was a little bit depressed. I didn't have time to ask her if she could expound on the subject, because I was late for a pitch session. Ha. Yeah, I was supposed to go pitch a book that WILL NOT SELL to a literary agent after that. That pitch session did not go well.
My mama raised me to get back on the horse after I've been thrown, and gosh darn it, I did. I marched into my next pitch session (which was literally ten minutes after I bombed the first) and I nailed it. Said exactly what I wanted to say and got a full manuscript request.
*On a side note, I was able to pull that editor aside after dinner to ask her for a little more info (prettyprettyplease) about what she had said earlier. And what I got was a chance to send her some of my pages to get some feedback. Feedback. From an editor. At a huge publishing company. It pays to get back on the horse!!!
What has been your experience? Have some loved your work? Some hated? Do you agree that the industry is subjective?
Come back next Wednesday for Part 2.