National RWA conference is coming up next month, and I thought we could share some conference tips, information and experiences with you this week. I just returned from the Bram Stoker Awards weekend in Burbank, CA, and it was a fantastic con. Originally intended to be an awards ceremony and banquet, the Stokers has expanded to be its own writing con, with workshops, keynote speakers and, yes, pitch sessions.
If you've never been to a writers con or experienced pitch sessions, let me tell you a bit about them. You sign up for the conference and then may have the opportunity to sign up to see a particular editor or agent to whom you get to pitch your book or story, to get feedback and see if they have an interest in seeing what you've written. If you're lucky, you get a business card and a request for the first three chapters or a synopsis or sometimes even the full manuscript. Yay! If you're not so lucky, you'll get a "that's not for us," "what's your next idea," or " sorry, we don't publish that kind of book." Definitely a bummer, but still a good experience to learn how to pitch well.
The Stokers pitch sessions (which I coordinated) included editors from Dorchester/Leisure (Don D'Auria) and Medallion Press (Helen Rosburg and associates), small press editors Brian and Beth Cartwright (Cargo Cult Press) and Larry Roberts and Norman Rubenstein (Blood Letting Press), agents Robert Fleck and Peter Miller, and movie producers Don Murphy and Zac Sanford. We had them booked almost all day for the Saturday pitch sessions, due to the great demand.
I love organizing pitch sessions, and I also gave a workshop the day before on how to approach your pitch session, which we'll try to discuss later in the week. I had a full room and lots of people told me how helpful they found the information - if you're offered such a workshop before your pitch session, GO! The person giving the workshop may be able to give you extra information you might like to know about the person you're meeting with, so it's worth the time.
Anyway, after all that, I had two novels requested, one by each editor, and two screenplays, one by each producer, so I felt like I'd done really well, and I know others had requests as well. If you have the opportunity to do a pitch session, do it. The experience is worth it - if you don't make an a&& of yourself - and you may have material requested by someone you really want to work with.
If you have specific pitch questions, post them here and I'll try to get to them this week.