Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I Learned At SCBWI

It was a crazy, busy weekend.  Writers, agents, publishers, editors and illustrators gathered in the sunshine state in time for the first warm weekend of the year.  Counting on the opportunity to interact with so many literary geniuses, I revved up to full speed, willing to accept nothing less than a five figure deal.  Here’s what really happened.
  • I learned you don’t have to be a great speaker to be a fantastic writer.  It would help, however, if you prepared something ahead of time.  When my turn comes to wow an audience with tales of my first novel, I hope I’ll have something good to say.
  • Very few children’s writers are men, at least the wannabes.  Yet, I found the most fascinating speakers, among lots of fascinating speakers, were Michael Grant and Richard Peck.
  • Think e-readers are bad for the book business.  Just wait until you’ll be able to download direct from an author for a few bucks or less.  Bad for traditional publishers and bookstores.  Good for writers.  It’s given me a new perspective on self-publishing.
  • Agent A doesn’t respond to query.  Agent’s website says if you don’t hear in 8 weeks, they are passing.  Cornering Agent A with your proposal (without mentioning the aforementioned submission) will result in an enthusiastic invitation for submission.  They’re people, people.  Not gods.
  • As good as I think it is, my manuscript can be improved.  New ideas began to form on my way home.  I envision a grand re-write in the weeks ahead, before the next round of submissions.
  • Don’t rely on the conference schedule.  Ask questions ahead of time.  I signed up and prepared to present a series pitch to Michael Grant, author of the GONE series.  After he began today’s presentation, titled ‘Building the Series,’ I realized the actual pitch session was yesterday.  Doh!
  • Sometimes it pays to screw up.  When I told Michael Grant how I’d gotten the schedule wrong, he not only gave me his email address, inviting me to send my pitch, he also gave me a jump drive with a few chapters of LIES, the yet to be released third novel in the GONE series.  He’s a cool dude, and GONE is awesome.  I’m only halfway through the first one, so I don’t want to spoil it, but he did encourage me, and a few others, to post his chapters on our websites.  Look for it in the coming weeks.
All in all, it was a productive weekend.  My writing can only improve as a result.  Even if you’re not writing for kids (YA, Middle Grade, Picture books, etc…) if you can get to one of these conferences it is time well spent.  Believe me, I got more than my money’s worth.
In other news…
Look for my entry in Lost Wanderer’s dinner party challenge.  Now that SCBWI is done, I have time to work on it.  Expect it some time this week.


Melissa said...

Awww, now I want to go to a conference! Sounds like you got your money's worth just from the networking. And that is so cool that you have the first three chapters of LIES. Can't wait for you to post them.

Angela said...

Conferences are worth their weight in gold. LOVE conferences. Glad you had a good time!

Erica said...

Yay! I'm so glad you learned a lot and sounds like you had a good time :o)

Can't wait to read your dinner party post! And read the posts from Michael Grant - he sounds like a really great guy!

Haven't attended one yet, but then again, they don't come out this way much, perhaps when we move :o) Thanks for sharing!

Patti said...

Sounds like you had a successful event. I'm jealous. There's no conferences like that close to where I live.

Lost Wanderer said...

Sounds like you had a great experience. I really want to attend a writer's conference, but there doesn't seem to many in UK.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Great list Matt. Very interesting observations!