Day two began with coffee
courtesy of the LA Times.
I met several published folks, (I'm feeble and don't remember names except for Eric LaSalle; nice guy) there for presentations, (giving and receiving) or to promote their books.
For the presentations:D.P. Lyle,
(Best Laid Plains): I was bored to tears
after five minutes and bailed after ten. Davis Bunn
, (POV Into a Powerful Asset): I didn't last five minutes here. James Scott Bell,
(Page Turning Techniques of the Pros): This came highly recommended and for good reason. Mr. Bell used POWERPOINT/Film clips to demonstrated use of concise plot/character developement. This room was SRO and worth 40 minutes on my feet.
Second hour:Lee Child
, (Tell Don't Show): I didn't bother for two reasons 1) the premise runs counter to my style--waste of his time and mine 2) fanboyus maximus--there were 200 peeps in a conference room with chairs for 100. I wouldn't cheat anyone of their share of O2. Joan Johnston
, (Writing Connected Books; Writing a Series): I done did this. Nothing to see here. Gayle Lynds
, (Ordinary to Extraordinary): Sounds all hippy-dippy Kumba Ya.
There were only eight other peeps in the room with 100 chairs. But
the cigar shop didn't open until 10:00
it was the only show in town, so I went. IT ROCKED
. Ms. Lynds' secret ingedient? PASSION
She told us about her journey--20 years in less than 10 minutes. Then she asked each person--Guess who called "first"?--
to cite their passion. When she asked our books/WIP premise, you could hear the FAIL
in voices. I sound like an insensitive
--and I am--
however, Ms. Lynds used this moment to demonstrate the importance of PASSION
to your project.
She told us how long she labored as a newspaper reporter and then through short stories
for lit journals the "right" people praised and petted, kinda like a dog, and how her husband pushed her to write her first novel. She spoke of starting/discarding WIPs
until, she tied her passion (work in a national security thinktank) to her love of pulp books. LIGHT BULB!
By this time, you know the FAIL
-voiced peeps in the room were mentally rewriting/throwing out their WIP for something tying a story to a passion.
She also talked about failed projects and the root, not surprising, is often an idea without underlying passion for the subject.
Ms. Lynds joked about being slotted to present opposit of Lee Child. I'm thankful to Oprah she was.
This was a wonderful presentation and even if you don't read/write/like thrillers, you should NEVER miss an opportunity to hear Ms. Lynds speak.
Third hour:Ann Rule
, (How to Stalk a Serial Killer/True Crime): Not if I was paid to attend.
Again, too many fanboys/girls too little interest.David Morrell
, (Dynamics of Structure): Have you ever read this cat? I did and I'd like my money back on that library book. Oh, if you don't know, he wrote Rambo. Yeah.Jamie Freveletti
, (Premise and Action): I had high hopes for Ms. Freveletti. She's a former prosecutor, an Aikido practitioner, (the graceful art) and just wrote a Jason Borne novel. Sadly, she couldn't deliever on the promise. No snark here, I truly admire this lady and told her so as an apology for my initial tweet.
Ms. Freveletti began with a brief intro and then handouts. For 75 people? In 2012? Never heard of POWERPOINT?
(Okay, there's some
snark. It's me after all.)
End result? 1/3 had one handout, (example from her novel) another 1/3 had another handout (example from Lee Child's novel) and 1/3 had nothing. Her presentation was jumbled, (highpoints: fear of rooms over 27th floor/Godfather movie/Aikido/RPGs) she read but didn't tie the handouts (WTF?) to her presentation, whatever it was
and, considering Ms. Freveletti's obvious talent/intellegent was embarrassing to watch.
As I type this I'm steamed all over again.
Quite frankly it was more than a lack of preperation it bordered on a lack of consideration. If this had been the first presentation I attended, I would've gotten the money back on this. Even now, three weeks later, I regret attending this train wreck.
I skipped the second half to get my 3rd cigar, (shhhs with that noise, my Mrs. might be listening) before lunch.
Don't skip it. A lot of folks did. You paid for it and you DO NOT want to pitch agents on low blood sugar, as I saw folks do.
Don't linger. It's easy to get all chatty
and lose track of time. I did the swoop and scarf before running to the room for a shower, brush o' teeth, shave and fresh suit. *Note
: Dress like you want to be there. Sounds like a
condescending statement, I know, but every agent there was dress appropriately to conduct serious business, the aspiring authors largely were not. Business casual doesn't mean you just rolled off the couch and you're ready to do bit'ness.
Guys: A shirt with a collar, please. And leave the gym/court/farm shoes at the gym/court/farm. Glossy wingtips? How about just clean (intact) shoes that don't look like you used them to dig coal?
Seems basic but if you look like you rode into town on a box car, you won't inspire confidence to invest considerable time/resources in your professional endeavors.
Ladies: I don't care if your child/grandchild/godchild made the shirt, if it has a picture/bedazzle/slogan on it, wear something else.
Everybody: Unless you're Norman Mailer, comb you hair! If you are
Norman Mailer, you might wanna lie down.
Shorts/cargo/capri pants only if you're meeting your dream agent in the Amazon, on a desert isle or Applebee's.
This was a airconditioned CONFERENCE ROOM.
Oh, if your feet look like you've been running from/after lions on the Serengeti, don't wear sandals. Now, AgentFest
ORGANIZE/prioritize your agents BEFORE you're in line. They give you a pack with agent/room assignments on DAY ONE
, use it to figure out who you want to see and prioritize by how many are in one room. Seems basic but few did this or tried to do it in line.
Meanwhile, the organizers line you up and at the precise moment, cut you loose into a horseshoe of conference rooms. Folks ran all willy nilly and some ran Willie Nelson.
There were 54 agents and 2.5 hours. I spoke with 11 agents and one "producer." Others less organized spoke with four people. Total. I'm not lying for attention.
For obvious reasons, I won't be naming agents and honestly most of this is a blur but here goes. I was advised early (THANK YOU, gg!) to have a one sheet with photo, (so they MIGHT remember you) a one/two sentence statement, (THANK YOU, Twitter Pitch, THANK YOU Brenlee!) your query (THANK YOU Tabris/JeanneG/BRMyers/Zooks/et al QT. Represent!)
and as much of page one from your MS as possible. I skipped cards. None of the agents I saw took them and only a couple took my one sheet. Have something to write on and write with. Some of these folks ran out of cards and were giving email address. The agent that requested my full ran out of cards, had no pen/paper. I mugged enough boy scouts to be prepared so, I had both.
Remember the producer? Jann Cobler, (you didn't take me seriously on that not-naming-names business, did you
?) gave me her card during pitch coaching, "I get what you're doing, come see me." I waited in line for >20 minutes for this chick to tell me, "Oh, I thought you were doing an Anglo version of El Mariachi."
Really? That's what you heard? NEXT! Lesson
: Keep your eyes on the prize. I went for an agent, not a movie producer who's produced no movies.
Stay flexible. If agent A has a line six bodies deep and agent C has two people waiting, maximize your time. I did this when I saw no one waiting to talk to Paul Lucas and Mr. Lucas texting. He listened to my Twitter pitch and said, "Not interested." Sad?
Not really, no. You want an honest "no."
Mr. Lucas' answer was straight, to the point and, I had two minutes to spend on another agent not checking their twitter feed.
Don't try to sell these folks. You waste their time and yours. Most of the agents were considerate and patient, even when they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. The ones who "got" it, kept me talking longer than 3 minutes--NONE asked me if I'd read their client XYZ--they asked "got" it questions: who have you read last/got anymore o' dis/what color underwear? The last one was to see if you're paying attention. *Adendum:
The entire ITW/ThrillerFest staff was fantastically helpful durring AgentFest. Sophie Littlefield, (who I ~ahem~ mentioned from day one, was especially helpful as I sought an agent on my list that had his room reassigned. She's a former QT-er and incredibly generous with her time/consideration.
In total, I got 8 partials and a full. The full came from a kid I spoke to last and knew very little about. Lesson
: Discount no one (agent/editor) you think MIGHT get your bit. This was a thriller convention but this agent kid GETS crime.
One last note: Flexibility,
I can't stress it enough. There were 54 agents. Two were last minute stand-ins. Chip MacGregor, Donna Bagdasarian, and John Talbot either cancelled or just didn't show.
Have a plan for after. You'll be burnt out
and you don't want to have to think where to eat/drink/go/do. We--my writing buddy, his partner and my Mrs.--schlepped to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill and had a wonderful, New Southwest dinner. I smoked my cigar walking back to the hotel. If you're interested, or take up a new hobby, I smoke a CAO Cameroon/Creolo/OSA.
We stayed four more days to unwind. Great trip, great experience. Questions?