02-19-2007, 01:52 AM
I just got home from attending the 2007 San Francisco Writers Conference. And it was a great experience. I recommend a writing conference to anyone wanting to learn about the craft of writing, pitching, and networking.

The attendees were fun to talk with. Everyone was a writer... everyone had stories to share. And I don't just mean their writing, but all kinds of good conversation. Brains with all kinds of ideas and experiences were everywhere.

All three days were filled with mini-conferences throughout each day for all to attend. Pick and choose the classes you wanted to go to... very cool.

There were classes on query writing, thriller writing, mystery stuff, non-fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, self-publishing, etc.. There was an abundance of information to ingest. There was also speed dating with editors one evening and speed dating with agents another day (where you pitch your work to them).

I found pitching to be of huge value. And I got a couple agents interested enough to take some of my work... and an editor took some work as well. That was the main reason I went... to pitch.

Now that the conference is finished I have some other networks that I can use to query other agents with. And the agents take you seriously when you mention a writers conference and/or an author that liked your work enough to give up his/her own lit agents name/agency. I found the networking to be of big importance.

This isn't a huge report. But I learned a lot. It was worth the money. And I would do it again.

02-19-2007, 01:54 AM
Awesome! Glad it went well for you! (can I just say I always know when you've posted something 'cause the title is in all caps! - it's like your signature style or something :))

02-19-2007, 03:09 AM
LOL! Thanks, Toothpaste. I guess the uppercases are a subconscious way of me thinking I have something important to say:)

02-19-2007, 06:16 AM
Glad you enjoyed the conference and found it helpful. I usually feel that way when I go to the RWA annual conference and there used to be one at the University of Georgia, but it isn't being held this year.

I hope it helps your writing efforts.

02-19-2007, 11:41 AM
If I ever had to do the speed-dating system of pitching, I would come in with a big cigar, Groucho Marx glasses and mustache, and I would talk like Jimmy Durante the whole time.

02-19-2007, 05:19 PM
LOL, Pete.
You'd make a big impression.

I love attending conferences. I always come away from them charged up. It's one thing to talk with other writers on the internet, but hanging out in person is inspiring. I've met several agents and a handful of bestselling novelists, and they always make me feel like I can do this. 'Cause they're just like me, regular people, ya know?

02-19-2007, 06:18 PM
I don't know, there are plenty of writers who I've met in person who are so completely out to lunch that I feel I should apologize to the rest of the world on their behalf. "We're not all like this," I'd say. "Some of us are within shouting distance of sane."

02-19-2007, 09:03 PM
Pete, now you've got me thirsting for stories! Come on, dish the dirt!

02-19-2007, 09:15 PM
"Some of us are within shouting distance of sane."
Shouting distance of what?

02-19-2007, 11:10 PM
Pete, now you've got me thirsting for stories! Come on, dish the dirt!

You'll get the people who are really, really impressed and full of themselves. They can be shorter than you and they're still looking down their noses at you. 'Cause they're writers.

The ones I dislike are the ones who speak to me in huuuuge elaborate sentences. "Yes, well, *I* wrote a story which spoke about Aphrodite -- you probably don't know who that is -- and it pertained to how she speaks to everyday people inundating them with pertinent messages of great consequence."

They speak slowly, as if giving a thoughtful interview, and they are dripping with pleasure at how many big words they're using. Mostly, they're just arrogant twits.

I never tell them I'm a writer. I'm too ashamed of them. Arrogant bastards. I'm really thrilled that you know some several-syllable words (whoa, I know them too. Wow! Golly!) but you should use them because they have a USE, not flaunt them because you think it makes you look smart. It doesn't. You look like a twit.

It's also common in idiot high schooler students who write dramatic free verse poetry, and they've won contests, and are some pretty slick shit.

Only you're not. You're just a writer. And 99% of the time, if you press then you find out that the contest they won is Poetry.com.

(90% of the time, the authors are self published; also idiots).

We get a lot of authors in our used bookstore, because we'll agreeably carry their books new and pay them when they sell. They come in, shake my hand, give me a --ing business card, discuss how popular and special their books are, and so on and so forth.

(ultimately, those conversations end with the realization that they, er, haven't sold a single copy of their book My Life as a Traveling Airplane Salesman* and then they go away suddenly a lot less inclined to be nice to anyone.)

02-19-2007, 11:42 PM
PeeDee - Take all the "big talk" with a grain of salt. I met tons of writers at the conference, some down to earth and some "out there" in some respects. But I find this field to be full of people who know how to embelish stories as well as themselves. It's tough to get published, but some try anything and everything, including lying about how many copies they've sold previously. Not that I condone lying, but there seems to be a lot of desperation from some. I guess different folks come off as desperate in different ways... and others don't rub us the wrong way in any regard.

02-19-2007, 11:47 PM
I didn't say EVERY writer is like that. Heck, I've got a big bunch of authors on these forums who are (astoundingly) sane. Somewhere in there. :D

I've said it before. Writers are just people. Some are lunatics, some are arrogant, some are normal and cool. That's what happens when people are involved. I'm not terribly worried about it.

Just unimpressed by the arrogant lunatic ones.

02-20-2007, 12:09 AM
Just unimpressed by the arrogant lunatic ones.

What happened to Gordon Jerome, anyway?

02-20-2007, 12:10 AM
I am legally not allowed to tell you. Or I won't get my deposit back on my wood chipper.

02-20-2007, 01:42 AM
PeeDee, that makes me think of when I was a student and working as a waitress. Some people find it very entertaining to intimidate young waitresses. As soon as they tried it, I would be exquisitely polite, but make sure that every sentence I spoke to them was crammed with as many polysyllabics as I could drum up. Worked like a charm. They'd shut up and back off. Yes, I was being aggressive, although I'm not sure that qualified as arrogance.

I did have to convince even my husband that using big words is not necessarily a sign of arrogance (yes, I know, it often is). I learned to read young and became a hopeless bookworm almost as fast. That meant that my natural thought patterns were permanently warped. I think like a book. With lots of big words. I sometimes wondered if I went into foreign languages because I learned from an early age to translate what I was thinking into simpler language, just to avoid the hostile responses. But if I'm tired, or angry, out pop the hundred-dollar words and the subordinate clauses. It would break my kids up. "Mommy, you're so funny when you're mad!"

02-20-2007, 01:48 AM
Nothing wrong with using big words. I use 'em all the time. I'm proud of my vo-cab-u-larry. And if it gets some jerk to back off, I don't think that qualifies as arrogance.

Bourbon Street
02-20-2007, 02:07 AM
I attended the SFWC also and have a somewhat different take on it.

I wouldn't say it was a Complete Waste of Time and Money but it was pretty darned close.

Glad you got something out of it though, Coolorangefreeze.

Will Lavender
02-20-2007, 07:05 PM
I highly recommend pitch conferences. I personally think they're the best sort of publishing instruction out there.

I went to the NYC Pitch-and-Shop, and it helped me immensely.

A lot of writers mistake what these pitch conferences are. They believe they're tickets to getting published; they believe it's their one and only shot to sit down face to face with an editor and get "in." (To be fair, though, the organizers bill them like this.)

What they really are, though, in my experience anyway, are crits for the query.

And the query is the lifeblood of the whole process.

Pay $500 to polish a letter? you say.

Absolutely. Sign up NOW.

02-20-2007, 08:05 PM
Absolutely, Will. Pursuing a dream takes many forms. Hard work, tons of editing, going to conferences, meeting agents and editors, pitching, and networking... it is only of benefit IMO.

02-20-2007, 08:32 PM
And the query is the lifeblood of the whole process.

Pay $500 to polish a letter? you say.

Absolutely. Sign up NOW.

Well, queries are important, but the lifeblood is really and truly good writing.

There are very few things I'd pay $500 for, and I'm afraid polishing a query letter isn't one of them.

Which is not to say these conferences aren't useful. I bet they are. Mostly, though, I would go intending to make some friends, pay attention, and maybe talk to people who are in the same business as I am.

02-20-2007, 09:11 PM
$500 to polish a query letter? Hell, post it in SYW and get it cleaned up for free by people who have written good, successful queries.

If you really want to spend money though, Paypal me $250 and I'll get it polished up for you right pronto.

aka eraser
02-20-2007, 09:19 PM
I'll do it for $200. Canadian.

If it's a single page. ;)

02-20-2007, 09:21 PM
Hell, pay me five bucks and I'll post your query to the Share Your Work section for you. I'll even cajole people into reading it for free. :D

02-20-2007, 09:48 PM
Hell, pay me five bucks and I'll post your query to the Share Your Work section for you. I'll even cajole people into reading it for free. :D

Now that's a bargain. I think you've found your calling. You can bill yourself as a "post packager"!

Will Lavender
02-21-2007, 12:03 AM
I thought I could write an effective query, too.

I was wrong.

My success rate pre-NYC Pitch-and-Shop was about 50%.

After the conference, it was about 90%.

And I eventually got an agent, sold the book, yada yada.

I don't think a lot of folks can write good queries. That's harsh, but it's probably true. It looks so...easy. But it's not -- at all. At least in my experience.

(To be completely fair, the conferences aren't ALL about queries. The companionship was also great. And there is a possibility that an editor/agent will request your manuscript, but even the editors we spoke to in New York basically spent most of their time helping with the query.)

02-21-2007, 01:26 AM
I know I can't write a query worth toffee. I'm really bad at it. But that said, I wouldn't pay $500 for it.

Some people would. Fair enough.

12-04-2007, 03:02 AM