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.




The Big Authonomy Question

When I went to the Writer’s Digest Editors Intensive one of the things that they talked about is It is a website developed by Harper Collins (Major Publisher) where writers can post up all or some of their work and get people to look at it. The best books are determined by the readers and the top books get looked at by Harper Collins’ editors. This is a big deal as Harper Collins does not accept direct submissions, you have to have an agent, and a good one at that, to get their editors to look at your work.

I am going to post the first part of my book Midnight In Vegas as soon as I get my cover art done. (You have to have a cover, I am working on mine, I’ll do a post on that later.) I am excited at this new way of getting noticed. Not only is Harper Collins reading the posts but other publishers and agents are scouring the site for new talent.

The big uproar at the moment however is all about a single book. It is called Lesser Sins by Vineet Bhalla. The buzz about this book isn’t about how good it is. It is about the author’s use of community to get it pushed, unfairly some people claim, to the top of the readers list.

Vineet, as it turns out, is a big time member of a online gaming group, a massive online gaming group. So when he posted his book he went online and told all his online buddies (like 800 or so) to go and vote for his book. Which they did. He went on YouTube and posted videos on how to do it. He went out and marketed his work like nobody else has ever done. He shot straight to number 1. Not on the merit of his book, but on the power of his community.

So the question is: Did he cheat?

I don’t think so. I think he was very, very clever. When I post up my book Midnight In Vegas on Authonomy I intend to announce it to everyone who will listen. I am sure that everyone who has posted anything on that site did the same thing. It is a popularity contest! It is stupid not to. They just didn’t take it to the level that Vineet did. 

I wish I had Vineet’s following. I am working on building one right now. I think what he did is genious, the man took the word platform and showed the world what it really means. The Internet is boundless, get used to it.

There is a great interview with Vineet on Lauri Shaw’s blog ( I suggest that you read it.

I would like to say that coincidentally Lesser Sins is the first book I read on Authonomy when I signed up. Not because it’s popularity but because it has a great cover picture and the summary is excellent. I’ll save my opinion of the book’s content for another post.

So did Vineet achieve anything he wouldn’t have achieved without his community? I don’t think he did. I think he achieved it faster.

Ultimately his work and the work of every author will be judged by agents, editors and publishers before it gets published. They will NEVER give anyone a book deal because they have lots of on line friends who are willing to go do something that is absolutely free. His work has to stand on its own feet if it is going to go any further. What he received was attention, lots of it, and that can only be a good thing. It is all up to him and his work from here.

That is my opinion but I would like to hear what you think.

PAD Challenge Thoughts

I would like to appologize to everyone for not posting anything but the poem a day challenge poems. I wanted this blog to be about writing, not a poetry book.

I am enjoying the challenge, it’s fun to get a prompt and crank out a quick poem about it. I am flattered by your comments. The fun thing about poetry is that it is a very personal expression, that if written well, evokes very personal feelings in the reader. To me it is an attempt to connect us together in our universal human experience. When it works, we are moved, we love it. When it doesn’t work it seems like egocentric drivel.

I have been reading the other poem a day posts ( click on the comments to see the posts.) Some are amazing works, there are some amazing writers out there, but most just seem like self gratuitous words piled on themselves, it is boring and tedious to read.

I know I am not the greatest poet. I am not here to bore you. It is fun for me to write poetry, and hopefully fun for someone to read but my goal is to write and publish a novel. I want to be a novelist not a poet. Anyone can be a poet, not everyone can write a novel.

So I promise that I will be posting up some “On Topic” posts soon along with the 21 remaining poems of the challenge.

April 5th PAD Entry

Prompt: Landmark

Nelson’s Column.

I have sat in the lion’s lap.

Hopped up on the statue, to take a picture.

One lion, my lion, maybe yours too, if you ever claimed one.

I did. I was 18 and in London for the first time.

I took a picture.

I came back again, with some friends, and took another.

I returned again, years older and years wiser, and climbed up on my lion.

I brought my wife, all newlywed and honeymooned.

We took a picture.

I showed my pictures to my children.

Told them that it was their lion too.

One day we will take a picture.

Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Challenge

April is poetry month and Writer’s Digest is holding a poem a day challenge for the month. They are providing a prompt and everyone can write and submit a poem for that day and that prompt. Sounds like fun so I am giving it a shot. If you are interested check it out at

I am also going to post up my poems here for you to read.



Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm  Comments Off on Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Challenge  
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Writers Digest Editors Intensive

On March 21st and 22nd I attended the Writer’s Digest Editors Intensive in Cincinnati OH. The conference was a two day event. The first day was a full day seminar on writing and the second day was a one on one critique of your first 50 pages by a professional editor.

Obviously having a professional editor look at your work is a great hook and the reason I signed up for the conference. The surprising thing was how much I got out of the class on Saturday. I thought that the class would be a diversion for the main event, a one on one critique that had my heart pounding and palms sweating every time I thought about it. It wasn’t, it was really informative and changed the way I was thinking about getting published. The instructor for most of the day was Jane Friedman who did an excellent job of teaching a diverse group of people about how to use the internet to advance their writing careers. As I am a self professed geek and computer guy I am ashamed to admit that I hadn’t even begun to think about using the social networking sites out there to get my writing career going.

So now I am setting up my Facebook, writing this blog. Tweeting on twitter and developing a platform for myself to stand on and be seen above the crowd. Obviously this is all a big process but one that isn’t really that much work and hopefully will help me get published, which after all is the ultimate goal.

The review with the editor went extremely well. Overall he liked my work, had a few key suggestions for improving it and gave me a written critique. Considering how nervous I was before meeting the editor this was an awesome experience. I had expected him to shred my work, tear it apart, tell me everything was wrong. Before going in I had completely rewritten the first 50 pages again in my head, mercilessly chopping out more pages. Ironically the first comment my reviewer had was to add in something I had edited out before submitting it. That was invaluable to me. I fear that when I’m editing my own work I am overly critical and cut out too much. Scott proved that fear had some basis. Does that mean I shouldn’t cut anything out, no, absolutely not but I need to keep my fears in check while editing.

I have been working on my editing and finishing my book for a while now. I think the Editor’s Intensive showed the road I need to be travelling on to getting it done and getting it out there. For that I think that the experience was invaluable.