Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Report from the Trenches

This last weekend I was at the Houston Writers Guild conference in Houston, TX.  Unlike my friend, agent Josh Getzler, I did not take 53 pitches!  (check out his thoughts on the conference at http://heydeadguy.typepad.com/heydeadguy/)  I only took 23.  But I also did a seminar on mysteries.  It was a learning experience for me as well.

Like Josh noted, many authors can't properly place themselves in the market.  Almost every single manuscript that I was pitched was described as a thriller.  When I looked at the writing sample, it was clear to me that several were actually cozies or soft boiled.  I spent a good deal of time talking about subgenres and giving examples.

One question that surprised me was "do you buy on proposal?"  Ummm... no.  Not unless you have a serious body of work under your belt and I therefore the author can deliver a finished and acceptable manuscript.  I would certainly make an offer on a proposal from Lee Child, for example!  Or Maggie Sefton.  :)

Another question - "do you have an assistant who pre-reads for you?"  Good Lord.  After I managed to pick myself off the floor and wipe the tears from my eyes, I simply said, "No.  No, I don't."

I also extensively explain the publishing process, from the submission to the finished product hitting the market.  Oh, I probably forgot one or two of the seemingly endless steps, but I am fairly certain the folks walked away with a little more understanding of the amount of work that goes into publishing a book.

Novel SituationAnd of course, I emphasized the most important part.  Write, write, write.  Revise, revise, revise.  Write, write, write.  Before you send it off to an agent or an editor, make sure you have put together the best possible product you can!  You often only have one shot at an agent or an editor.  Make sure you are putting your best work forward.

Before the conference in Houston, I was able to make a side trip to Austin to meet Inkers Karen MacInerney and Robin Allen.  I have to say, I love my Inkers!  The food was excellent and the company was outstanding.  To Karen and Robin - thank you for the warm welcome.  :)


6 comments:

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Sounds like a fruitful adventure, Terri, especially meeting up with Robin and Karen.

Shannon said...

I love when you mention Maggie Sefton, a great Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer with an inspiring story of persistence.

Robin Allen said...

It was great to see you and show off my town, Terri! And excellent advice for writers to make sure their work is perfect before sending out.

I posted a picture of us on my Book Tour page: http://robinallentx.blogspot.com/p/book-tour.html

-Robin

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Why is it that many folks who write cozies insist they don't? It's as if they are ashamed of their own work. It's not a hickey you can slap makeup on in the hope no one will notice. My name is Sue Ann and I write cozies, and I have no shame...on many levels.

Deborah Sharp said...

It amazes me that people there to pitch haven't done more research on the whole publishing process. But you're a good egg for taking so much time to educate and inform. BTW, Woo-hoo!! on Maggie Sefton. I once had the privilege of sitting next to her at a signing; her line snaked down the stairs; mine must not have been able to find the stairs.

Terri Bischoff said...

Thanks all!

Sue Ann, I don't know why authors shy away from cozies either. I thought as a community we were getting past that. I guess cozy still is a four letter word!!

Maggie Sefton is a hoot. Totally full of energy and love for her fans and the mystery community. I am very proud to have signed her. :)

Robin - I promise to visit Austin again sometime. But for longer!