Surrey Writer’s Con (Act 3 – Success or Not?)

Joe’s Post #67

successWas it a success?

Well, no one said, “OMG, I HAVE to read this novel, send it out right away, no wait, print it up and give it to me now, I’m going to cancel everything else and read it… and get you a cupcake.”

But setting that up as the measure of success is unrealistic. And a bit silly. It’s sort of like me thinking I’m the handsomest, funniest, tallest guy in the bar. I may think that way after 4 shots of tequila, but it’s not reality.

The reality is that I got great feedback on the challenges I will face in submitting this novel. On Friday, I heard this loud and clear and it was depressing. Really shoulder-slumping depressing. But with sober second thought, if I know there’s a problem, I can rework my selling tools to deal with that. I won’t run from the concerns, I’ll tackle them head on and see if I can find a way to make someone believe in this story as much as I do.

So let’s take another look at this.

I managed to pitch 5 agents and editors, I talked to one more in a workshop. All good. However, I missed talking to one agent due to some really bad timing decisions on my part, and a complete inability to stalk someone. I thought I could do a quick pitch as she left the interviewing room but she was nowhere to be found. I thought she might be at the supper but despite walking around with a glass of water and stopping at every table and staring at everyone with a Gomer Pyle expression on my face, I couldn’t see her, even though I found the agents table.

I think I will have to learn how to stalk properly.

Epic fail on the stalking.

But a success (for the most part) on the whole ‘meet important people thing’.

My pitch, though, was off. It failed to connect or at least create something that agents or editors thought was magical (and by that, I mean sellable.) I went with a character-theme heavy pitch but I needed to emphasis an audience and what would make it sell.

My bad. I’ll be far better prepared next time. I already have some ideas.

But epic fail on the pitch part.

However, my ability to haul my sorry ass out of a bad pitch was pretty good. Not REALLY good as my nerves may have log-jammed-up my thoughts and I may spit out words like a mini-gun spits out bullets, but with the exception of one editor, I convinced them there was at least something to look at. Or they took pity on me. Either way is fine.

So, success there.

seanAs well, epic success on the query. That one I got right. After retooling it at 1am. Again, thanks for my buddy Sean (who’s celebrating his latest book, The Guilty, and probably working on a way to get a topless picture of himself in the next fireman’s calendar.)

Epic success, at least for me, on meeting new people as well. It got easier and easier and reminded me that I’m not alone in this quest to get published.

Lastly, my business card rocked! In my darker moments, I think the agents/editors agreedphoto (5) to look at my stuff because they loved my card.

So, all things considered, the conference was very much like my real life, there were moments of hope and moments of despair, there were ups and there were downs – and there were cupcakes. I’m proud that no matter how terrified I was to go and pitch my novel, especially when I began to realize my pitch was massively off, I still went in and did it and did it again and again. I never did overcome my fear but I didn’t let it stop me from doing what must be done.

Score one for the good guys.

I also think I have three of the most important skills a writer needs.

1) Pigheaded stubbornness (stupidity?) to keep doing this no matter the setbacks or math that says my chances are slim.

2) The desire to keep learning, to write better, to find a way around or through obstacles and barriers.

3) And of course, perhaps foolishly, I believe I can write and tell a good story.

I’ll be back again next year.

I hope to see more people there. If you go, make sure to come up to me and say hi. I’ll be the nerdy-looking guy in the business center taping away on my laptop, a cup of coffee and remains of a cupcake nearby.

5 thoughts on “Surrey Writer’s Con (Act 3 – Success or Not?)

  1. YYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAA HA! Terrific. One note: on that problem with retooling the pitch in front of the agent/editor – that’s thinking on your feet, and introverts find it incredibly difficult to do. We need to let it simmer, get the guys in the basement (to steal from S. King) to work on it, and we need our down/alone time for that to happen, so don’t fault yourself too much on that one. That was an amazing weekend Joe, you got so, so, so much out of that, both on a personal and a writing level, I think it’s an unqualified success for you. And good luck to Sean on the calendar. It’ll be a trick!

  2. Just remember that when I saw you sitting there I “knew” you from last year and this blog and I went in and poured out my heart… and I felt I could because we are “in this together.”
    You were a great help and I came out of this siwc13 with a firm determination…
    Hopefully we will both be celebrating in the bar next year!!

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