Wednesday, October 8, 2014

O.C. Agent's Day

Living in Southern California has  many advantages: the weather, the beaches, the mountains, but one major advantage for me, as a writer, is its proximity to events hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, like the Orange County Agent's Day I attended this past weekend.

The event was hosted by the amazing Orange County regional advisors, Francesca Rusackas and Q. L. Pearce, on the lovely Cal State Fullerton Campus, (you can take a virtual tour of the campus here). This was a different venue from previous years which resulted in a shortened commute, free lunch, and free parking. All win-wins for me. 

The day began with the usual check in, jockeying for seats in the Titan Auditorium, a warm welcome from our hosts, a few announcements, followed by my favorite part of the day— the agent talks. 

The featured agents were:
Sean, Charlie, Christa, and Lori
Sprinkled in between the agent's were first pages panels and Spotlight Authors: Marianne D. Wallace and Marcie Wessels, who inspired us with their personal writing journeys.

Throughout the day, I gleaned quite a bit of literary insight. Some of which should be common sense: 
  • Do your research before you submit.
  • Follow the agency's submission guidelines. 
  • Address the agent by name.
  • Read, read, read!
  • Network with others in your field.
  • Don't send tweaks, changes, revisions unless they're requested.
...and a few suggestions that weren't so common.
  • Do cyberstalk (but not in a creepy way) to know what agent's and editors are looking for.
  • Don't compare your book with Harry Potter, Hunger Games Wimpy Kid, etc., if it's the next big thing, let the writing speak for itself.
  • Take your time on any requested changes or revisions.
  • Don't answer a rejection with a new project. 
  • A/B test your query letters if you're getting rejections.
  • Talk about your story, not the business.
As writers we spend a lot of time alone. Attending SCBWI events is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the writing world beyond our desks and computers. If you can, attend an event in your area. Schmoozes are free and fun. If there aren't any events in your area, join SCBWI and create one. Nothing sparks the passion for writing like being in a room full of writers!

Are you a member of SCBWI? Another writing organization? How do you connect with other writers outside cyberspace?


10 comments:

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic advice. I have a local critique group, and one day, I hope I can afford to go to a writer's convention.

Sherry Ellis said...

You're lucky the conference is so close to you! Thank you for sharing the advice you picked up!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Awesome you got to attend. Some good tips there.

KAT Writer said...

The conference sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing your take aways.

I really need to start looking for events like these.

Kate

S.P. Bowers said...

I was a member of SCBWI a long time ago. I need to sign up again.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like a fun time and a great opportunity. Thanks for sharing your experience.

cleemckenzie said...

Conferences always energize, don't they? Glad you were able to attend.

Jennifer S. Pitts said...

Christine, money is often a factor, but if there's a schmooze in your area try it out; they are free!

I feel very fortunate to be so close, Sherry. It does make it easier to attend the event.

Thanks, Alex.

It was wonderful, Kate. SCBWI has an online calendar with all their events. Check it out if you can.

S.P., I've found my SCBWI membership very beneficial.

You are welcome, Susan. It was a fun experience.

Yes, C.Lee, they do!

kao said...

It was great to meet you at the OC conference. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful advice in the moments before the pitch session, I did remember to slow down! I like your blog and hope to see you again at a future conference!

Scribbles From Jenn said...

It was great meeting you, too, Kao! I'm so glad my comments helped. Hopefully we can meet up again at another SCBWI event. Maybe even on a published author's panel :)

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