Vegas Baby!

I will be attending the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference on April 15th – April 18th. You can check out their website here .

It looks like they have great program this year and some really interesting agents, authors, and publishers to hobnob with.

The other great thing about the conference is they limit attendance to 150 people. That makes it a little more intimate. I never got the final numbers from BEA last year but there were hordes of us there. You can read my thoughts on that here and here.

They also have dinners and “meet and greets” where they make the illustrious ones mingle with us dirty hungry ones.

I am looking forward to going to a west coast convention. It seems that everything in writing is so New York centric. Which is great, if you live back east. It’s a pain in the ass for those of us who can’t throw down a thousand dollars in air fare to cross the country for every major convention. 

Of course even as I write this part of me is still jumping up and down screaming and shouting for joy that the World Science Fiction Convention (where they give out the Hugo awards!) will be hosted in Reno next year. RENOVATION! I am so there.

Tchuss

Lystra

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All Star Week

That is right folks. I have declared this week to be all star week. I will be sending out my next wave of queries to the all stars of literary agents. The famous blogging agents. You know ’em, you love ’em you read their blogs religiously (if you are an aspiring writer anyway). This week I am sending queries to the following big name agents:

Janet Reid the infamous query shark herself

Nathan Bransford

Jonathan Lyons

Kristen Nelson

And I would send one to Rachelle Gardner but she isn’t interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

These wonderful people write fantastic blogs. Every writer should subscribe to them. They have helped me understand the publishing industry and I am excited about sending them queries. I don’t really expect to get much back. These people are the rock stars of the aspiring writer world (Janet Reid’s line at BEA Pitch Slam was at least twenty miles long) and get bombarded with queries and attention. I don’t know if my query is good enough to stand out. I do know that I owe these people a shot at my book, after all the help they have given me.

Tchuss

Lystra

And the beat goes on.

So, my request for full wasn’t an exclusive request for full so after much debating I am going to continue to send out queries. This was a hard decision for me. I want to honor the agent who first sent me the request but I have to be realistic. This is a say no, ask questions later type industry. Odds are that I will get a rejection on my MS so I have to keep playing the field until I get a solid strike, if I don’t this could be up to twelve weeks of wasted time.

So I plan on sending out my next wave of queries this week. I am shooting for around six queries a month. My hope is that if I get any feedback I can use it and not have to re-query anyone.

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm  Comments Off on And the beat goes on.  
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The scene in my head

Jennifer Jackson tossed her third Starbucks into the trash as she got into the elevator. Her hands were barely shaking anymore as she hit the button for her floor. Today is the day she thought grimly, the elevator lurching into motion made her jump a little. She had stopped taking query letters until January 15, 2010 and today was that day. She was sure when she got into her office the InBox would be full of hopeful letters sent by desperate fools. Her job was to sift through the muck and pull out the nuggets of talent and skill then process the raw ore into fine pieces of jewelry for the world to observe and enjoy. The only problem was that the nuggets were rarer than gold.

The elevator dinged and Jennifer jumped, she took a Red Bull from her purse and popped the top, she still wasn’t ready. Guzzling the can she walked into the front office of the Donald Maass Literary agency. Donald was there waiting for her. He was always the first one in the office.

“Well, it’s begun.” He smiled and handed her a coffee.

Jennifer took a deep drink before responding. “How bad is it?”

“Hundreds, maybe thousands, I lost count.”

Jennifer made a face. “Really?”

“Afraid so.” Donald took the now empty coffee cup from Jennifer’s trembling hands and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Anything good?” She asked hopefully.

“Actually, yes, the first one you received. I liked it. You should read it.”

“The first one Donald?”

“Sent at the stroke of midnight, and the funny thing is I’ve met the author.”

“When?”

“At BEA last year. You know I usually don’t remember specific people from the thousands I meet at conventions each year, but I liked this guy. He came off really smart and funny too. I am happy to see he got his synopsis done. Of course I only talked to him for about five seconds but hey, some people stand out.”

“Well, I’ll have to read that one first.” Jennifer smiled. Perhaps today wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

I sent Jennifer Jackson a query last night at midnight her time. I hope reality matches what is going on in my head. I might be pushing it with Donald Maass remembering me, but who knows.

Tchuss

Lystra

BEA Writer’s Convention Part Two

The crux of the whole thing is obviously the Pitch Slam. You can go anywhere and hear fantastic speakers talk about the things that were discussed in the various breakout sessions and speeches. You cannot find a room full of agents willing to listen to a horde of writers pitch their books anywhere but the BEA Writer’s Conference.

All in all I would say that the Pitch Slam went pretty much as I expected. I wish that it was a bit longer, I only got to speak to five agents in the two hours. Somehow the agents I wanted to talk to all had the longest lines and at 3 minutes a pop you burn through two hours fairly quickly.

My biggest disappointment of the trip was not being able to pitch to Janet Reid. I watched her during several panels and the Pitch Slam prep and I have to say she is as funny and clever in person as she is in her blog. That being said she was also the most sought after agent in the room. Her line when I first saw it held way over thirty people. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a line that size equals at least ninety minutes. I took a gamble and decided to pitch a few other agents whose lines were shorter then get into Janet’s line. Sadly at four thirty when I went to get into her line it was closed (and so was t lines for half the other agents I wanted to talk to.) I am still wondering if I made the right decision, but I need to get over that and concentrate on the agents I did speak with.

I am happy to say that two agents of my five were interested enough in my pitch to request more material. The other three will obviously hate it when I’m on the NY Times bestsellers list.

My two incredibly insightful agents were Sandy Lu of the L. Perkins Agency and Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown.  Both requested a synopsis and my first fifty pages. I am happy that I went to the Writer’s Digest Editors Intensive and already have had an editor look at my first fifty pages. I feel confident that they are strongly written and hopefully will get the agents interested in more. The synopsis is another story.

I haven’t written a synopsis. Anyone thinking of going to the BEA Writer’s Convention or any other place that allows you to pitch agents listen up. They tell you to finish your manuscript before you start to query or pitch your work well I’m going to add one more to that. Finish your synopsis. I have spent all weekend working on my synopsis and it turns out, synopsis writing is a bitch.

Imagine writing a book report on your book. Doesn’t sound fun does it. Trust me it isn’t. The worst part is I feel like I am scrambling to get it done. I want to strike while the iron is hot. I want to get this synopsis and my first fifty into these agents email inbox as quickly as possible, before they forget who the hell I am (not that I am that sure they’ll remember anyway they had to have met a lot of writers that day).

So if you are querying or pitching bite the bullet and write that synopsis today, you’ll be glad you did.

Okay wasted enough time blogging, now back to the bloody book report.

Tchuss

Lystra

BEA Writer’s Convention Observations Part One

The first thing the convention taught me was that I am not alone. As much as I read about the overwhelming number of query letters agents receive every day, how many times I hear about the thousands of manuscripts in slush piles overflowing out the doors and windows of publishing offices. There is nothing like a convention room filled to the brim with writers to illustrate how desperate my situation is. These writers, who I am sure believe in their work as much as I believe in mine, all paid their hard earned money, money they didn’t earn writing, to be there. THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF US IN THAT ROOM. Hundreds, who like me crossed great distances and spent extravagant amounts of money to get a few precious moments with an agent. Writers are not in short supply.

I wondered what would happen if every person in that room had a brilliant masterpiece, a novel of unequalled quality, the magnum opus of their genre in our time would the agents be able to take them all? Would they all get published? I believe that the sad answer to that question is no. There are too many of us for all our talent to be recognized. The system cannot take everything it is offered, no matter how good it is.

Luckily, I am sure that only a handful of the people in that room had good stories. Right? That is what they would have you believe, that is how the system is set up. But I don’t know. I heard a lot of pitches, both practicing with strangers and overhearing the guys and gals in front of me and I liked most of the story ideas I heard. I am sure that a lot of people in that crowd had mediocre stories or mediocre writing skills and they will be rightfully culled from the herd. Won’t they? Again I am not sure. I have read a lot of really bad books, and I know you have too.

The system cannot guarantee that it will discover all the talented writers nor can it weed out the untalented. So I have to wonder how does one succeed in such a fundamentally flawed establishment? The only answer I have is luck. You have to get lucky, bottom line. It sounds bad right? But it isn’t as bad as all that. You can work with luck.

What is that? You ask.

Work with luck? How is that possible?

Sit back and listen to the Nevada boy.

LUCK IS ODDS. Odds are probability. Probability is a mathematical equation. Equations are manipulated through the use of variables.

Here are the variables: Number of books published and the number of submissions received.

If the givens are that your work is good enough to be published the more you submit or query the better the odds are you will be published. I warn you the odds are really shitty to start out with, but I’ve pulled to an inside strait with no outs, if the pot is right, you just have to go for it. (I do not mean to spam query or do anything stupid or rude that will get you blackballed in the publishing world, I am only saying, query or submit to every available and viable source.)

You see what I mean?

So here is the pot. Your work being read, and enjoyed, by a person you’ve never met.

I hear so many people talking about wanting to see their names on the cover, or their book on a shelf at Barnes and Noble, or just seeing their work in print.

I think all that stuff is awesome, but it isn’t what I am writing for. I am writing to entertain people with my stories, as many people as I possibly can.

So with that illustrious pot piled up on the table before me, I’m going all in, and seeing where the cards take me.

I have seen the elephant

In Victorian England the British Empire spanned the entire globe. It was so expansive that the Brits bragged that the sun never set on the British Empire, and it was true, there were colonies and commonwealths on every continent. No matter what the hour, it was daylight somewhere in the vast empire. During that time, the empire’s most unruly and combative subjects were found in Africa, India, and Asia. Veteran British soldiers were said to have “Seen the elephant.” because if they had gone into battle it was more likely than not that they had done so in a place which, quite simply, had elephants. Today the term is more loosely used to describe any veteran of any endeavor.

After Writers Digest’s BEA Writers Convention, I can say without a moment’s hesitation that I have seen the elephant and what an ugly beast it is.

I have to say on the whole the convention was great. Karin Slaughter was an awesome keynote speaker, the breakout sessions and seminars were informative and fun, the lunch speaker was great, and the pitch slam was exactly what I thought it was going to be.

At a safe distance any elephant can seem charming. Everybody loves elephants, in a zoo, behind a sturdy fence, maybe even a moat. Do you dare climb over that fence, swim that moat and cavort with the great beasts up close and personal? I did, and I’ll tell you what I saw.

In my next couple of posts.

And Here Comes the Pitch

So obviously the moment we’ve all been waiting for is fast approaching. I am going to sit down with as many agents as I can and pitch my novel Midnight In Vegas. The poor agents are being forced at gunpoint to listen to the pitches of possibly hundreds of desperate writers such as myself. This is the infamous BEA pitch slam. Writers and agents crowded together into a hot room for an uncomfortable hour of pure selling. The neophyte writers sacrificing themselves en masse on the bourbon stained altars of the seasoned veterans of the publishing world.

At least that is how it goes down in my imagination. I have no idea what it is really going to be like. It looks like it could be an unadulterated orgy of ideas and I am, how you say, a wirgin? (Gotcha) I’ve never pitched my book to anybody. Now I am signed up for the biggest manage-a-minds in the industry.

How do you prepare for that???

  • Go over my story in my head. Over and Over and Over again. –check
  • Write down key points I need to cover in my Pitch. -check
  • Read every blog ever written about pitching, both by agents and authors. –check
  • Brush teeth. – check (never hurts to start early)
  • Work on roguish yet authorial look in bathroom mirror every morning. – check
  • Make super cool personal business cards with all contact info. -check

Things that I might do, or that I am not sure I should do, or really don’t want to do.

  • Write down and memorize a pitch. While that appeals to paranoid little voice in the back of my head, I don’t think I want to do that. I have some notes and highlights jotted down but I don’t want to sound robotic or rehearsed and I am a very extemporaneous type of speaker anyway.
  • Go Naked. If there is one way to be sure they’ll remember me, that’d be it. Obvious drawbacks. (To any agents or publishers who might read this, I am joking, It’s going to be ok, really. Put the phone down, don’t cancel the trip, please, I’ll be good. I really want to talk to you.)
  • Get a haircut- For real this time. I think I need something more roguish, or authorial. I alternate on which I need every morning.
  • Pack a couple of copies of my manuscript. As everyone with a complete manuscript knows, the bastards are heavy, but I don’t want to be caught flat footed if somebody asks for a full? From what I have seen and read I don’t think that they will. Best case; they’ll wait for me to email or mail it to them.
  • Burn full ms on to a couple of thumb drives. Could solve the fantasy problem of having someone wanting to read me right away. But those cost money and I am already spending too much of that.

 

Anybody else have any suggestion or comments? Am I missing anything?

Tchuss

-Lystra

Heading to New York.

I made up mind. I am going to attend the BEA Writers Conference. Signed in, booked the tickets and reserved my hotel.

I feel really optimistic about this.

I have my agent list ready. I know who I want to talk to and why I want to talk to them.  

Now to work on my pitch. I’ve lost a little bit on my fastball over the years but I still have a nice changeup and slider, so I can use those in a pinch.

Doing a turn around trip. Fly in, do the conference and fly out. Three whirlwind days, should be fun.

Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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BEA Writers Conference

I have been going back and forth on whether or not to go to the BEA Writers Conference/Pitch Slam. I had just about given up on it but this post by Janet Reid (the infamous Query Shark herself)  today turned my head back around. Now I don’t know what I should do.

 I figure a round trip shot to NY with hotels and eats would run me about$1200.00 give or take, which is about the same my run to Cincinnati cost me. While that is a lot of money to throw out the window of a plane, it is doable, it’ll hurt, but it is doable. The big question is will it be worth it?

The crux is the pitch slam. For those of you who haven’t heard about this it is at the end of the conference all the agents and editors let the unwashed (or unpublished anyway) masses assault them with pitches for our books.   Obviously no deals are signed on the spot but the conference boasts several book deals a year from pitches made at the slam. The benefit is when I send my new and improved (still working on it) query letter to any of the agents I meet at the conference they might not throw it directly into the slush pile, they might actually read my first five pages, then they might actually read more (dear God let them read more.)

So there you are. Do you see my dilemma?

I put together a list of the agents who will be attending that I want to talk to about my book. (You’ll notice I have Janet Reid on there, while I’m not sure my book is her thing, her blogs, both QueryShark and her own personal blog are awesome. So if I do go, I absolutely have to meet her.) and there are alot of people who seem to be looking for my genre attending.

So how far do you go chasing rainbows?

Hmmmmm.

What do you think?

PITCH SLAM 2009

MIRIAM KRISS (Irene Goodman Literary) is seeking all areas of commercial fiction including, but not limited to: mystery, romance, thrillers, YA, fantasy (especially urban fantasy), and SF.  She is also interested in narrative nonfiction and memoir.

CHERRY WEINER (Cherry Weiner Literary) handles all genres of fiction, and
specializes in science fiction, fantasy (especially urban fantasy), romance, Westerns and Native American works. Some nonfiction has even crept into the mix but she doesn’t consider poetry or children’s.

JOANNA STAMPFEL-VOLPE (Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation) represents everything from children’s books (chapter books to YA, both nonfiction and fiction), to adult fiction (speculative, romance, historical, paranormal, unique fantasy, thrillers, literary, dark comedy, dark drama, horror) and she will occasionally take on strong narrative nonfiction with pop culture, environmental or food elements.

GRETCHEN STELTER (Baker’s Mark Literary Agency) works with creators who write in the same genres she loves to read: middle grade and YA fiction, magic(al) realism, contemporary fiction, and women’s fiction. She is interested in anything with an urban fantasy touch (more Mike Carey than Maurice Dantec), and the middle grade and YA should have edgy, true-to-life characters and dialogue. The contemporary and women’s fiction should have a wide entry point for its audience but a strong hook that makes it stand out from the crowd.

GINGER CLARK (Curtis Brown, Ltd.) represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal chick lit, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction.

STACIA DECKER (Firebrand Literary) is looking for adult narrative nonfiction in the areas of politics, history, biography, travel, memoir, current events, and pop culture. She also specializes in hard-boiled mystery and crime fiction.

LEAH HULTENSCHMIDT (editor, Dorchester Publishing) is looking to meet with authors or agents who have a completed romance manuscript of 75,000-95,000 words in the following romance subgenres: historical, paranormal, futuristic, urban fantasy, and romantic suspense.

SANDY LU (L. Perkins Agency) specializes in both quality fiction and nonfiction, with a particular interest in dark literary fiction, edgy urban fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thriller, psychological horror, upscale women’s fiction, and multicultural fiction.  Her nonfiction categories are narrative nonfiction, history, biography, science, pop culture, and food writing.

JENNY RAPPAPORT (The Rappaport Agency) specializes in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, young adult, and romance. 

JANET REID (FinePrint Literary Management, aka QueryShark) specializes in crime fiction.  She also represents narrative nonfiction, reference and how to books.  She’s open to pitches on any topic however.  Good writing trumps all.