Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Speed Dating

I'm going to a speed dating event this Sunday. Sure, I just got engaged and it's Valentine's Day weekend, but it'll be fun! Okay, it's not THAT kind of speed dating; it's an event called Speed Dating with Agents – part of the San Francisco Writers Conference I'm attending this weekend.

The event is just like it sounds: you have a dozen literary agents in a room full of conference attendees who, like me, paid an extra $50 for the hour-long event. The agents stand up and tell the attendees who they are and what type of work they're looking for. Then you sit down with an agent, and you have THREE MINUTES to pitch your book, including time for the agent's response. You give your spiel. A bell rings. You stop talking. The agent responds. Then – ding! – a second bell rings and you move to the next one. Pretty intense, huh?

The rest of the conference looks intense, too: lectures and workshops from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., then gala parties, book signings and open-mic events. It's my first writing conference and I don't know what to expect. What do I bring? What do I wear? What do I do? What will the agents and editors be like? Jerry Maguire with glasses? George Plimpton in tweed?

But I'm most excited and nervous about the speed dating. In preparing for this event, they tell you to imagine your book was turned into a movie. If your movie was on TV, what would TV Guide write about it? Mine would read something like this (imagine a voiceover from, say James Earl Jones):

An FDA physician, reeling from his wife's death, travels to Mexico City to investigate a fraudulent drug trial. There, he uncovers a horrifying scheme that threatens to destroy his faith in the American medical system – and forces him to explore the darkest corners of his grief.

Something like that. Needs some work.

I'm bringing along several copies of the first page of my novel, a synopsis, a full manuscript, and some business cards. From what I hear, it's extremely unlikely that anyone will ask to see your work, and if they do, they read one page and decide on the spot if you can write. Yikes. I'm trying not to take the whole thing too seriously, but it feels like that scene in Hustle & Flow when D-Jay is trying to get Skinny Black to listen to his demo tape.

So wish me luck. Because it's hard out here for a pimp.


  1. There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don't talk at all, 'cause they walkin'. Now, people who talk the talk, when it comes time for them to walk the walk, you know what they do? They talk people like me into walkin' for them.

  2. The event sounds great. If nothing pans out you can always write about it....