A question for you. I am currently filling out my agreement and agent information forms for the Desert Dreams 2008 Writers Conference--I know, I know it's late and I apologize. One of the things they are asking me is what workshops I'm willing to present. One is already on BookEnds--an overview of the agency and a question and answer session. So while I have a list of conference topics I'm always speaking on I want to hear what you think. When you go to conferences what would you like agents to talk about? What have been some of the better workshops you've attended? Or what from the blog do you think might make a good workshop?
I can give up to three workshops and am more than happy to give as many as necessary, but I'm feeling drained of ideas. So I'd love to hear what you think.
How about something along the lines of "After No - What writers can do after they've been rejected by an agent." To give them tools and strategies to moving along to the next prospective agent, reviewing their pitch, ms. etc. I think that many writers feel so deflated when they're turned down, they're almost paralytic and it takes them a while to get back on their feet and keep pitching elsewhere.
Well, I always want to hear agents talk about career planning - what it involves, how to go about it, what the author can do/how the agent can help, and any other bits of wisdom you could throw our way.
Also, discussing the submission process from your perspective, as you did in that last "day in the life" post, is always interesting. We're fascinated by how things work at your end of the process and always love to hear more about how things happen on the other side of the desk.
I really enjoy your "day in the life" posts. There are already a lot of books and blogs about how-to-write-queries. I'd want to know more about your submission process and how you work with clients.
I also think it would be great to touch on the various reasons manuscripts are rejected by agents and editors. (Personal taste vs. marketing issues vs. needs more work.)
What about The 10 Things Your Agent Will Do For You (besides sell your book)? To give writers a more complete idea of your role.
Thank you for asking!
I really, really like first pages workshops. You have them read their first page and tell them when you would stop and say no or ask for more.
Query letter bootcamps are nice, too. Dan Lazar gives one that is kind of brutal, but helpful.
Also, the day in the life is great...but perhaps on the "secret circle" of agent and editor life. Who do you know?...What do you talk about? Do you read writer's forums and blogs?
What mistakes are we making?
When is it time to stop submitting?
How about a workshop on revisions:
1. the types you ask for,
2. the types you get in return,
3. how quickly you get to them,
4. what type of author responses you have had when you've asked for them.
5. what you do when an editor asks for them
Love to hear about trends in publishing - past, current, and your best-guess predictions for future. While most writer-souls realize we need to write what we "have to" write, it's cool to know what those editors are asking about.
How about something on creating a web presence? I've read on different sites that it's important to begin even before that first sale.
Also, I think most writers are unprepared for the amount of promotion they'll need to take responsibility for once they sell. Touching on that might help them see their manuscript in the big picture.
I think that the most important thing to remember when presenting workshops to writers is to assume a level of professionalism among your audience. We hold a sort of reverence for people in the publishing business, and we hang on every word you say. The worst thing you can do is to be negative or condescending in your tone. It's not that you have to be unrealistically positive. It's just that we know the business is tough. We've been rejected and we keep at it. It's important for an agent to continue to fan the flames and keep us excited about what we do, not regretting the fact that we fell in love with such a daunting career.
I'd like to see a workshop where people submit their agent rejection letters and an agent tries to interpret them.
I love what you did with the query letters about what worked and what didn't. You really pointed out some interesting things. Not only as to what hooks you but what doesn't, ideas for tightening the pitch and, what still gets me as I never considered it, information on using a pen name. With what you did with query letters, most writers, no matter what level (unless their Queens like Nora Roberts or the like), would benefit from that type of workshop. Bet you'd have standing room only. :D
Thanks everyone! Great ideas and definitely a post I'll refer back to. I chose to go with Rejection-Proof Your Query which will include critiques, etc. And Career Planning. I'm hoping one will appeal to unpubs and the other to pubs.
I was greatly looking forward to your workshops in Dallas; however, with my combination of editor appointments and Golden Heart finalist commitments, all your workshops are scheduled for the wrong time! Hopefully I can still pop in at the tail end or tail beginning of one of them. Would love to hear you speak; your blog "voice" is so dynamic.
And, I forgot to say, whatever an agent chooses to speak out, I'd advise making sure it's a topic he or she is passionate about and not just a topic the attendees might want to hear. I've attended a couple of agent workshops that had me snoozing in my 28,000 oz. latte. And I've attended others where the agent was so dynamic, it was amazing. You could really tell she loved the genre the workshop was about.
Make that "speak ON"...
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