At breakfast I greeted my now old conference buddies, while meeting a few new faces like the young man who said that his novel wasn’t finished and that he had no idea what genre it fit into so I asked him to pitch it to me and we discussed likely matches. (With 230 writers in attendance, I suppose it should not have shocked me that the two of us were at such contrasting places on the publishing road: this new father felt confident enough to present with a first work-in-progress and I had had a devil of a time deciding which of my four completed novels to showcase.) Still, there were several things I had learned that I couldn’t wait to get in place when I got home—if only my laptop had not died on Thursday evening.
Over the course of the weekend the 17 publishing representatives who had presented had convinced me of the following, a list that in no way pretends to be comprehensive:
· Agents provide some distance and perspective to a budding literary piece, and editors are there to invigorate the process because most writers see acceptance of a MS as “the end of the road,” but that may mean the voice is “dead.” A writer needs to look at what a professional editor does as “an extension of the writing process.”
· Get a “sales handle” on your manuscript: What is it? Why is it important? And, who is it for?
· YOU are the one who has the most passion for your material so “build a buzz for the book.” Writers need to develop a platform (via FB, Twitter, Blogs that groundswell into other Bloggers’ sites), viewing social networks as “cocktail parties” wherein you “create a conversation”; editors build upon the bases writers have already established for publicity because getting read is about “getting all the press you can during the life of the campaign.”
I waved goodbye to my cohorts and we all promised to network, but as I drove the hour and a half home the List of Things to Do grew (like install/use Tweet Deck). One thing was certain: no one was going to find me if I was the World's Biggest Secret. That was okay, though, because I had also found the confidence and the desire to delve into those undeveloped areas, and I felt like I might finally have a clue as to how to go about it and where to begin. . .