So the PNWA 2014 Conference is all over. I’ve swapped my dresses for yoga pants and pitch sessions for dirty diapers. Let me tell you, my feet are killing me! Stupid heels. But I’m so glad I went.
I think it went really well. Five (FIVE!) people asked to read either my full MS or a partial. It was incredibly exciting to send those off, even when I realized I sent the wrong version to a few and had to resend like a big ol’ lunatic. Hopefully that doesn’t count against me! What can I say, I’m over eager at this stage in the game.
The most exciting part was getting to know the agents between sessions. I sat next to an agent and editor for dessert on Thursday night, and not only were they ridiculously friendly, but they also had wonderful insights on the industry. Jennifer and I found that incredibly helpful! On Saturday we were able to speak with another agent and her client, who had a lot of input on the YA market. It was really interesting and she was so nice! Sprinkled throughout the conference were little interactions with an agent here, an editor there. Every single one was friendly, helpful and genuine. Who knew?
I think as writers we assume that agents and editors are these superhuman rock stars who don’t have time to interact with us little people. But the truth is, if you just offer a smile and say “hi,” they’ll probably respond in kind. Just don’t crawl under the bathroom stall to pitch them.
No. Really. I’m looking at you!
I did have one hilarious interaction with an agent that I just have to share. I had only a few minutes left in my pitch block and decided to pitch to [Name withheld to protect the hilarious]. I already had four people ask for pages, so I was pretty confident. I plunk down with a big smile, introduced myself, and dove in. “MY NAME IS 13 is best described as a cross between ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and THE LYING GAME. 13 is a slave…”
I get about three sentences in before he holds his hand up.
“Stop. That was terrible.”
“Oh. Okay. Would you like me to-”
“No. I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t know those books, and I think you need to breathe. Here’s how you should pitch me-”
Let’s just say he was right about the breathing! I smiled and nodded, took notes on how I should properly pitch him, and then was promptly dismissed. I thanked him and walked away, smiling dazedly.
“Did it go well?” the guy in line behind me asked.
“No! It was terrible!” I said, smiling. His face fell. Oops. Good luck, dude!
Needless to say, that’s not what I wanted to hear, but I was smiling because he was honest and he tried to help me improve my pitch for next time. Really, he made some valid points about the pitch. And I kept smiling all day because I had a hilarious story, and you know what? After as many rejections as I have had between FIVE manuscripts, I have reached that point where it no longer matters. It’s disappointing, but you know what? You just have to keep going and take the constructive criticism. Any help from a real live agent is great!
So the lesson, kids, is that you can’t get mad if someone rejects you. Especially when he’s hilarious and makes you do the walk of shame halfway through a pitch session.
So all of my fingers and toes are crossed that someone will love MY NAME IS 13 as much as I do. I’m happy to be home and back to writing my next YA manuscript.