‘Meet Me In The Bar’:Working a Writer’s Conference

(Blogger’s note: Summer is on its way — which means, for many, the season of writer’s conferences and retreats. In this three-part series, I share the many things I’ve learned during 20 years of attending writer’s conferences and 10 years of teaching and presenting at them.)

For information on the Society of Southwestern Authors’ Wrangling With Writing Conference, which takes place Sept. 27-28 in Tucson, Ariz.


Part One: Meet Me In The Bar, Take One


Like three hundred others, I carried my pitch letter, proposal introduction and sample book chapter into the interview area at the Society of Southwestern Authors’ Wrangling With Writing Conference in Tucson. I’d spent a solid month writing, polishing and tweaking the chapter and proposal intro. I’d also made sure the pitch letter stated everything I needed the agent to know about my book idea, writing style, professional background, ability to reach the market (platform), and knowledge of the subject.

I carried a piece of my life into what is affectionately called “the pit.”

A dozen literary agents and editors were sprinkled throughout the area. It was the afternoon of day one, and already, a glazed look started to reflect from their eyes. It better be good, Bob, I said to myself. The editors and agents heard fiction and non-fiction book pitches from writers who, like me, took their dreams of being published into the pit. In 15-minute bursts, writers presented their material, answered agents’ questions and either were told:

a) “We’re not looking for this particular genre;”

b) “This looks promising, but needs some more work;”

c) “I’ll keep you in mind, but we’re filled up in that area right now—do you have anything else?;” or the far preferable

d) “I’d like to see more chapters and a proposal—send as soon as you can. Here’s my card.”

My first experience was different. Let’s call it “e”. The agent asked me if I knew or talked with the subject of my proposed book; she wanted to know if my book was authorized. I ran to my hotel room, grabbed my cell phone, raced downstairs and called the subject in the agent’s presence. Her eyes lit up. Turned out she was a big fan. “Meet me in the bar tonight at five,” she said.  


Coming Up:

Attending Presentations

Back to the Bar

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