Monday, June 29, 2009

Make the most of your conference minutes

The life of a writer might seem lonely to someone who doesn’t understand the cast of characters that live within the imagination of the storyteller. Writing—a solitary pursuit. But those who make this journey understand the magic that comes from ignoring the phone, the house, the children and the spouse. Hunker over the computer, forget to eat, forget to shower and bring your characters to life. The real world will come crashing in soon enough. And when it does, who better to share that magical place than another writer.

With RWA’s national conference coming up, we thought we’d share some of the ways to make those conference minutes count. Recharge your creative batteries, visit in person with online friends, and immerse yourself with others who feel about writing the same way you do. No one understands an author like another author. We write first, and live in the real world second.

RWA, with all the good the bad and the ugly has value to an author. Lately there has been a lot of brouhaha in regards to the organization. Today, we aren’t going to focus on that, but on those who are going to Nationals, or any other conference.

You invested time and money to rub elbows with established New York Times bestsellers, successful e-published authors, those just starting out, agents and editors. Make sure you have the tools to make the most of your experience.

Of course, there are classes, awards, lunches and dinners. Hone your writing skills in the workshops, take notes, and notice who you are sitting next to. This is your time to network. Say hello, introduce yourself and tell them what you write. From a personal experience, I met an amazing author at RT in Houston. She was my roommate at RT in Orlando this year--Love you Kenzie :).

So let's talk about The Pitch
You’ve made your pitch appointments—be sure you know what they want. Do your homework. Do a bit of digging and make the best use of your ten minutes.

What to know when sitting down to a pitch appointment. The type of story, the setting, era, the genre and if it crosses into a subgenre. Your characters and their goal motivation and conflict. And the conflict of your story and how it is resolved. Be able to explain the full arc of your story in just a few sentences. And what makes your story different from the rest? It’s important to stand out and be memorable when that agent and editor is hearing stories all day long. But before any of this can happen, you need to know your hook. If you can capture the interest of the agent/editor then you have a good chance of grabbing the interest of readers. Be prepared to answer questions. If your book has been on the shelf a year, you need to read it again before you pitch it. Agents and editors will want details if they are interested. It’s best to pitch completed books.

The high concept elevator pitch—it can happen so be ready. What is high concept? A pitch that is easily recognizable storyline and is less than 25 words.

Can you guess the story?

Aliens take the shape of automobiles and attempt to take over the world-Transformers.

James Bond is married to a Desperate Housewife and she stumbles into his secret life-True Lies.

Can you come up with a high concept tag for your story? Give it your best shot. Leave us a comment.

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