The next time you’re feeling on top of your game, print out the first five pages of your manuscript the day before your first writers’ conference. Take five copies with you and submit them to the Slush Pile. Anonymously, thank heavens!
The conference will have a special time for the Slush Pile. Ours is on Friday evening after dinner. A panel of at least three agents/editors are seated on the stage. These people aren’t your garden variety writers. They are the pros. Reading gazillions of new submissions is their livelihood. No one is the sweet little lady next door. Some are dragons in floral print – with snow white hair. You know they’ve been doing this a long time.
As I recall last year’s conference and my first submission to the Slush Pile, my heart races and my cheeks burn – again.
A scared newbie, I did everything exactly right, turned my pages in and filed into the large room shortly after dinner. As my submission was passed to the panel, my heart raced and I pleaded to God, Mohammad and Buddha for a break. Previous to mine, others had been shredded, stomped on, ground into the dirt. One poor person’s work didn’t get past the title before all five hands shot up.
There were five editors/agents on last year’s panel. When three hands go up, the monitor stops reading and the women give their critiques.
Surrounded by my brand new friends, I waited in fear for the first hand to rise, the signal she had stopped reading. Waiting, waiting, there it is! The third hand. I was lucky. Two of them were kind, one even offered to help me the next day one-on-one. She was true to her word. I took her advice and was very happy when my own editor later praised my opening hook.
The third agent? OMG! Cinderella’s stepmother, both stepsisters, Nurse Ratchet, Lizzie Borden, you name it. Nasty old curmudgeon! I will never forget her. When she finished with me, I vowed to my friends that if the woman crossed in front of my car on the way out, I wouldn’t be held responsible if the brakes failed. I even fantasized about meeting her in the elevator, just the two of us, with enough time to slap the snot out of her!
My feelings were so hurt. Lesson? You gotta develop a tough skin to be in this business. Not everyone thinks you’re wonderful. LOL
I forgave her. She couldn’t help it. She hated the word picture. It depressed her. To each her own. It galls me even now to admit that she was right, and I’m so thankful that the nice editor, Rhonda from Wild Rose Press, helped me the next day.
Did I submit this year? No flippin’ way. I need another year to get my courage back up.
Pitching. I can’t speak firsthand on this. I haven’t done it. Conferences have several publishers represented who sit and take pitches on new works. A friend of mine pitched to three editors/agents and got two positive responses. She was thrilled and I was thrilled for her.
Sessions. Next time I’ll go over the sessions I attended and give some websites on SEOs, epublishing and idea versus concept.
Until then, brush up on those first few pages and be ready to submit come conference time. I’d love to hear how you do!