Writing Conferences: What’s in it for an Agent?

urlGoing to writing conferences and teaching workshops is something that many agents do. I like doing conferences for a few reasons. Of course, I’m always looking to find my next amazing client, another writer who will knock my socks off. That goes without saying. But for me, I also like doing conferences because it keeps me on my toes. The more I talk to people about what it is that I’m looking for, what makes a good query, what makes a good pitch or hook, how to improve your craft, the more clear that becomes for me. And my “what I’m looking for” keeps changing, too. Not the part about the excellent writing, of course, but what I’m currently interested in reading and what the market can bear. Putting myself in a situation where I have to speak (repeatedly) about that is a good way to keep it all fresh in my own mind.

There’s also the networking aspect of conferences. An important part of being a literary agent is forging connections with editors. Getting to know editors a little bit more personally allows me to really focus on which editors will like the work that my clients are writing. There’s nothing worse than pitching my client’s work to the wrong people (well, there’s plenty worse, but you know what I mean). I love when I am reading client work and I start building a submission list in my head, knowing exactly which editors will love it.

Then, for me there’s also the “wanting to make a difference” piece of going to conferences and teaching workshops. Just as a human being on this planet, I like to know that I’m making a difference for other people. It gives me great pleasure if I can say even one thing that will help an author with their manuscript, with their query letter, with their elevator pitch. Sometimes it’s just a kind word of encouragement. Other times it’s a harsher word of critique that (hopefully) will help kick a manuscript up to the next level or re-focus an author on a more productive track toward publication. This is extremely satisfying.

So, here are 6 places you’ll be able to find me this year. This list is not complete, because I’m still being offered conference opportunities for fall and winter 2013. I’m also putting together a writing retreat/workshops with a colleague of mine, that will run either this summer or in the fall (we’re still working out the venue details). For more information about that, click here.

1. “Writing a Top Notch Query” workshop at Hofstra University this Wednesday, March 13 at 6:30pm in Hempstead (Long Island), NY

2. “Query Roulette” through the Women’s National Book Association, like speed dating with agents, next Thursday, March 21 at 6:30pm in New York City

3. Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam, Saturday, April 6 in New York City

4. “The Art of Craft,” New England SCBWI Conference, Friday & Saturday, May 3 & 4 in Springfield, Massachusetts

5. Backspace Writer’s Conference, May 23, 24, 25 in New York City

6. Willamette Writer’s Conference, August 2, 3, 4 in Portland, Oregon

If your writing group or association is interested in having me attend a conference or give a workshop, please email me and we’ll work something out. I haven’t done Skype visits yet, but I’m open to that, too!

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9 responses to “Writing Conferences: What’s in it for an Agent?

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 03-21-2013 | The Author Chronicles

  2. Great post. You’re a busy agent-woman. 🙂
    Have you found many of your clients through conferences?

  3. Looking forward to meeting you at the NESCBWI conference! (It’s in Springfield, by the way 🙂

  4. Great post, Linda! See you in Portland!

  5. Susan

    Your time is very appreciated at the conferences because it does make a big difference to the people you help. Thank you! Can’t wait to see you in Portland.

  6. Such a well-rounded approach, Linda. One of the things I love most about getting out of my office and doing public talks about parenting is ‘the wonderful backlash’, as I call it, when one mom or dad gets a valuable nugget out of my bluster and blather, a piece of advice or perspective that transforms the way they engage with their kids. Sounds like you are providing the same to all those authors parenting their manuscripts. They too are tweaking and praying that the decisions/actions/revisions they make will transform their ‘babies’ in to the best ‘kids’ possible!

  7. These are some of the same reasons I accept the ocassional opportunity to work as an artist-in-residence at a school. I look forward to meeting you at the Backspace conference.