The weeks leading up to August 3rd, 2011, I was a mess. Not because life was crazy, though it always is, but because I wasn’t ready to attend my first ever writing conference. It felt like a huge step to be networking with agents, editors and publishers who I dreamed of querying when my novel sparkled better than Edward Cullen on a summer day in Arizona.
Because the number one rule to querying is?
Yes, you got it: never query an unfinished manuscript.
And, sitting at halfway through my second draft, my novel wasn’t finished.
I felt like I’d failed myself, wasted a substantial amount of money, and blew the opportunity to pitch my novel to agents whom I have on my ‘dream list’.
With the encouragement and an assist prepping from Stephanie Loree, a friend and member of my writing group, I went with the intent to learn everything I could, take notes vigorously to share with others, and yes, even pitch my novel every at chance that presented itself.
So multiple copies of my query letter, my three sentence “elevator pitch” ready and semi memorized, sample first pages, sample first five chapters, business cards, and frazzled nerves, I walked into the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference (PNWA)
And was greeted by 500 hopefuls such as myself. Seeing everyone just as nervous as me, helped calm my nerves, but I still felt like a traitor to our cause because my novel wasn’t finished.
Everything in me said ‘cancel the two appointments you have with your dream agents and let someone else with a finished novel have the chance’ but Steph wouldn’t hear of it. She pushed me to pitch, because cons are “a time to learn and hone your pitch/querying skills. Agents are there to give you guidance so when you’re ready to query, you nail it!”
So I kept my appointments.
One the second day of the con both the agents and the editors/publishers did separate panels to TELL us hopefuls what EXACTLY they are looking for RIGHT NOW. Afterward, someone asked the question that was killing me, and the question I wasn’t willing to ask myself, because I’m a chicken:
How do you feel about pitching an unfinished novel?
The response was unanimous from both panels:
PITCH IT NOW because we are here to TEACH you so when you’re ready to query you NAIL IT.
Steph is a genius (because she’s an avid con attendee and knows her shit when it comes to them.)
Writing Conferences are the ONLY place you can break the number one rule to querying, and do so with the permission from the people who open the doors to your career or keep them dead bolted shut: agents, editors and publishers.
Writing Conferences are stuffed full of opportunities, and I’ll be sharing my discoveries in the next few posts to come.
Happy Reading. Happier Writing.