Monday, October 27, 2008

Writing Conference Secrets

Chance favors a prepared mind

These are the words of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) keynote speaker and author Elizabeth Partridge. Partridge is the author of biographies of John Lennon, Woody Guthrie, and Dorothea Lange, which is an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor book; winner of the Jane Addams Peace Honor; an ALA notable book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. The tranquil campus of Mills College in Oakland, CA was the perfect setting for a wonderful conference.

Writing conferences are the best way to meet and network with other writers and meet editors, agents and publishers from houses that do not accept unsolicited submissions. However, editors, agents and publishers graciously accept manuscripts from writers who attend an SCBWI conference. What an opportunity!

When you attend a conference and hear the presentations, you will learn more ways to get your proverbial foot into the door. Editors and agents know a writer is serious about their craft when they attend writing conferences. Also, editors and agents are more likely to read queries from conference attendees.

Editors and agents are also serious about their business. However, issuing rejections are the least favorite part of their job. Another little bit of information I learned was that we are all equal until the first page is read. How well your first page is written will determine if that first page is turned.

A query letter is the first sample of your writing an editor or agent sees. This is why queries are so important. Also, remember to research the agent. Find out what kinds of work they want. Do they want queries by email or snail mail and what about professional stationary? Should you use it or not? Make your cover letter and your query stand out from the manuscript you send in. Show your professionalism and show your knowledge of the market to agents.

Julie Romeis, editor at Chronicle Books related the story of first-time author, Lisa Klein’s Ophelia from acquisition to development and publication. A two year process that was satisfying and successful for editor and author. Romeis also took us behind the scenes and gave us a detailed look into the cover design process.

Write it down,