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 McCarthy from McCarthy Literary
- Charlie Olsen from Inkwell Literary
- Christa Heschke from McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
- Lori Kilelly from Rodeen Literary Management
|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?