Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Always be Closing

We're always selling ourselves, the adage goes, and this has never been more true than at the San Francisco Writers Conference. The event consisted of three intense days of workshops, Q&A sessions, key note speakers, and book signings, but what it was really about was networking, networking, networking. 

There's something paradoxically comical about writers trying to sell themselves in every breakout session, bathroom, and buffet line. If you want to feel like a god for a day, fashion a name badge that says "editor" or "agent" and stroll around a writers conference. Jesus himself could've floated through the crowd, and he would've been trampled on the way to the agent's table. Witnessing the milieu, I gained a deep respect for editors and agents, and a better understanding of what it's like on their side of the table. One agent told me he gets 600 emails a day, most of them book queries (proposals). 600 emails! And we're not talking about a "thx" message from Jim in accounting; these are emails with entire manuscripts attached.

As frenzied as the hallway schmoozing was, the scheduled pitch events were even more intense. I can't imagine what it was like for the agents and editors. They sit at a table for hours, and every three minutes, a bell rings and another eager-eyed scribe sits down to pitch a book. I would have bashed my head against the table after the first half hour, but these professionals remained engaged, polite and responsive. I was extremely impressed, and I'm not just saying that in case one of them happens to be reading my blog. Are you reading my blog? Anyone? Remember me... we met at the SF Writers Conference... I'm the biotech thriller guy... remember?

For me, the conference was a huge success, and well worth the price of admission. I connected with several writers and freelance editors. And I pitched my book to three agents and one editor, and all four of them liked my idea and asked me to send sample pages! Exciting... but remember they haven't yet seen the writing -- and that's what it's all about.


  1. So the ultimate name tag would be 'Jesus - Editor at large'...?

  2. Wow. Another excellent post. Coicidentally, I have been itching to feel like a god for a day...also, thanks for the support on the new blog! I'm still working on it, so I haven't talked much about it, but it made my day/week that its already got your approval! FINALLY, most importantly, congratulations to you and Amy. I was hoping to tell you in person, but at any rate, until then, I am so happy for the two of you.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I'm really enjoying your blog! Best of luck on your publishing adventure!

  4. Gah - I'm local and I'm an editor. I'm kicking myself for not having known about this!