Last week, I finished a long work day on Friday, and boarded a red-eye flight for Newark, NJ. Now why, you might ask, did I do something like that? I know, it's like going from a slum to a ghetto, but it was not without purpose. Being a 1K (100,000) mile flier, you'd think I'd had the best seat on the plane. Continental saw differently. I was given the "little people" treatment.You've all been there. Back of the plane where I swear they put eight seats across the back not the regular six. My seatmates were three little Asian women squished into the two seats next to me and they giggled the entire way to New Jersey.
After arriving into New Jersey at 6:15am, I had a car pick me up for the drive to Manhattan. Of course, I hadn't checked the weather, and no surprise,found myself slepping through ankle deep slush and snow to the awaiting car. The driver was an old man in a big Town Car that evidently had bald tires. For the next hour we careened down the highway barely able to stay on the pavement for most of the ride. All of that doing less miles per hour than I can walk to the mailbox.
I arrived at the hotel in one piece. It was near 8 o'clock. The Writer's Digest Conference I'd decided to attend at the last minute was to start around 9am. True to my luck as of late, my room was no where near ready, and I was relegated to take a shower in the tiny "health club" in the basement of the high rise. So here I am, trying my darndest to make myself presentable in the dingy basement of a sweat-smelling gym whose "amenities" included a well used bar of soap, complete with the long dark hairs of a stranger, and a one watt bulb in which to see my shadow as I tried to apply makeup.
I sat through three decent classes before the 3 hour "pitch" session, whereby all of the 600 wanna-be-best-selling writers stood in line just to have a chance to share an abridged version of their manuscript with an agent, editor or publisher. There were about 60 agents, etc. in attendance, so you can see what a chaotic event it was. Four rooms, 60 agents, 600 writers. Do the math. We stood outside the four rooms with a list of the agents we hoped would request our manuscripts. At exactly two p.m., the doors opened and we all ran toward the first ahent we hoped to see like cattle drive with each of scouring the room as we ran, ent on our list. Sort of looked like a The cost, a whopping almost $400 for the day, proved to be money well spent. Out of eight agent visits, all eight agents asked for more of the manuscript, a good showing for any writer!
With that said, I send my kudos to The Writers Digest Conference, and all of the agents who sat at those tables throughout those grueling three hours. A special shout-out to Rachel Dugas from Talcott Notch Literary Agency. That young woman kept the biggest smile on her face and every writer who left her booth felt like a million bucks!
A thorn goes to the writer who shouted at an agent that "It's not fair! You said you took children's stories! I waited in line for over 25 minutes!" The agent, whom I will not name, tried to explain she looks for children's series (more than one book.) The writer stormed off leaving that poor agent a little soured, but who could blame her? A lesson to new writers....be polite, no matter what. You don't have the knowledge base to do anything but listen.
And finally, to all of the writers in attendance....Wow! Way to go! You and I are living our dream! Now get out there, polish those manuscripts and get them off to the agents that requested your stuff!