“You did what?”
“I bought you a ticket for that writing conference you’ve been talking about.”
“Why? If I wanted to go I would’ve…. ummm…. probably only talked about it.” I did want to go, and sweet husband knew I’d never spend that kind of money on my own. I’ve been known to squeeze a penny until Abe Lincoln cried for mercy. No way I’d gamble on this long shot.
For one thing, I wasn’t ready. My story wasn’t ready, but evidently the money was already spent. Time for this writing experiment to kick into high gear. I bought a paid critique on my first 20 pages from a visiting author. Best investment ever! I applied what I learned on those crimson covered pages to the rest of the manuscript.
While I was critiquing my book, my sisters and friends were critiquing me.
“What are you going to wear?”
Most dreaded question to ever hit my ears. Even worse than “Do you know how fast you were driving?” I’d rather visit with a Highway Patrolman on the side of the road than go to the mall. I became what every self-respecting mother of four fears – a project.
While my friends Jennifer and Shanna, my two sisters, my mom and my grandma tried to make me presentable (there was enough work to go around), I enrolled for the classes I’d take at conference. If they would’ve had a pre-beginners level, I would’ve signed up for it. And then there were the appointments. Each attendee gets two interviews – 15-minutes with an editor and an agent.
I scanned the list of possible victims. Agents, I had no clue. All I could think of was real estate. Was there a MLS for books and they’d list mine on there? (Fixer-upper with lots of potential?) I’d need to do more research into that. Choosing the editor was easier. I knew the books I liked to read and a lot of them came from the same publisher. I’d even seen this one guy’s name in the dedications. “Thanks to my editor…” How cool would it be to meet someone who knows my favorite authors?
But I also had a duty. I needed to know if God had called me to do this or if I was fooling myself. Should I keep trying or move on? But that took preparation. To my surprise you didn’t go and hand out your book to anyone interested. Instead you put together an arsenal of promotional material. One sheets, synopsis (not sure the plural on that one), business cards, chapter by chapter break down, proposals, elevator pitches – all must be primed and ready to fire at the long-suffering professionals.
I scoured blogs for instructions and examples. I floated drafts past friends from the OKC writing group and online critique partners. Knowing about books and stories wasn’t enough. Suddenly they expected us to know the ins and outs of publishing and marketing. It was overwhelming. To make things worse, I came across an article reminding newbies that they shouldn’t pitch anything to anyone. First impressions are impossible to undo and it was better to just observe at your first conference.
Oh my stars. I’d already requested an interview with my dream publisher. Now I find out I should start small? I should hide and hope to blend into the woodwork? Usually, that wouldn’t bother me but we’re talking some serious money was spent. This might be my only chance.