One of the traditions at most writers conferences is a custom known variously as “author interviews”, “one-on-ones” or “pitch sessions”. I think of them as a form of “speed dating”. Authors make appointments with agents, publishers and editors and get 15 minutes to sit with them one-on-one and “pitch” their book projects to gain valuable feedback, advice on avenues to seek towards publication, and for a lucky few, an actual book contract. For authors, the opportunity to place their proposal directly in the hands of a prospective agent, editor or publisher — and to make an impression as a “real person”, not just another submission package, is priceless. So, too, is the chance to ask questions about the publishing process, assess the best options, and get advice about fine-tuning their proposal. More than one would-be author has told me I was a “practice” pitch, in anticipation of being ready for the “real thing” for the next year’s conference.
My regular readers and audiences at presentations know that I heartily endorse writers conferences as one the the very best ways to learn more about the industry, the craft of writing, and the business-side of being an author or professional writer. Besides the valuable information from presenters, the networking with industry professionals, and the tips and tricks to be learned, the camaraderie with fellow authors at various waypoints along the path to publication can be rewarding and encouraging.
This past weekend I did 22 one-on-ones, a panel about publishing trends and a workshop on editing at the Society for Southwest Author’s 36th annual writers conference. The hospitality of this stellar organization was warm, the caliber of the facility was top-notch and the partipants were receptive and enthusiastic. Plus, I came away with a great new line (with a nod to Star Wars):
Metaphors Be With You.