It's put-yourself-out-there week if you are a Portland writer. The Willamette Writers Conference starts tomorrow, and it is full of opportunities for rejection.
Okay, so I'm being a tad negative. Let me screw on my happy face and get a better attitude (I'm on my second cup of tea for fortitude). The entire weekend pairs would-be and working writers with agents who could change their lives. That sounds too overwhelming, but it's true. One of last year's attendees pitched her book in 2011 and made good. Book deal, movie option, etc., etc. She's been given a coveted lunchtime speaker slot. The reality is her story is the exception. Most of us will walk away with (hopefully) a nice pat on the head and a "try harder next time" glance.
Inspirational aside: My book is ready! I will do it! I will walk away with a few requests for a full MS.
Notwithstanding, the conference is a wonderful chance to hone skills at selling yourself and your work.It starts Thursday night with the nerve-rattling "Pitch Practice with the Pros." From what I gather, it can be a humiliating experience in front of professionals and a large crowd. My anxiety spikes at the thought, but I have been crafting a pitch for it anyway. My crit group says it's too long and not enticing enough. My eraser is toast.
I will also see three other agents over the course of the weekend to pitch my book, Blood, Love & Steel. I've opted for group "consults," which is basically sitting around a hotel roundtable with seven other nervous writers who get three minutes each to grab a tired agent's attention for the coveted response, "Send me the full. Next." Oh, agents! I love you! You have to endure tedium and harassment by insecure egos for days on end.
Frankly, I haven't tried very hard to put my book out there. I queried about 10 agents a year ago. Got one to read it. Twice. She passed on my project but with such grace and timeliness that I couldn't hate her. She wrote plainspoken, helpful suggestions and got back to me when she said she would. Thank you for making my book better and my skin thicker.
For more info about the conference, click here. If you recognize me, stop and say hello. I'll be roaming the halls half-dazed with the rest of the wannabes.