Blogs by Rosalie Warren
Winchester Writers' Conference
6/28/2008 10:36:45 PM
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In pursuit of an agent... or when writers turn predatory
I spent yesterday at the Winchester Writers' Conference in southern England. Got home late last night, exhausted but happy. The conference lasts a whole week and includes workshops and classes, but it's possible just to dip in for a single day (as I did) or for the weekend.
The most interesting bit of it for me was the speed dating... sorry, the speed agenting... sorry, the opportunity we were given to book 15-minute sessions with individual literary agents, publishers and authors. You signed up in advance, you were invited to choose three "names" plus some second choices, and you were informed beforehand which ones you had secured.
The pleasant, easy-going writers at the conference suddenly turned predatory when they got within sniffing distance of these agents-and-the-like. Especially the agents. We were desperate to a man (actually 80% of us were women) to get our 15 minutes. And if the person before us overran, or if our tame agent spent any of the precious 15 minutes admiring our necklaces (as mine did!) or hunting for her pen - well, the hackles began to rise.
Our fifteen minutes over, a frantic little woman at the end of the hall (yes, we were crammed into a single room with only a few inches between desks... Did someone utter the words cattle-market? Surely not...) clapped her hands frantically (surely they could have given her a bell) and our agent's next suitor (you know what I mean) arrived. And woe betide us if we didn't get out of the way smartish.
I never knew that writers - in my experience a friendly, gentle species - could be so terrifying. A writer in pursuit of an agent is a formidable sight. Forget the lion pursuing the zebra. David Attenborough could do a riveting documentary on writers in predatory mode.
The result - well, one of my agents told me to keep trying. She liked my writing, she liked my books, but she told me that she rarely takes anyone on until they get to novel number seven. That's often the biggie, she said. Hmmm. Three down (nearly), four to go. A bit dispiriting, but at least she gave me her phone number. Told me to stay in touch, and to phone, not email, her when I had something new.
Clutching my little bit of cardboard for dear life, I shed my lion-skin, relaxed into my "nice" persona and went off to enjoy the rest of the conference.
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Two book signings next week - Friday, June 13, 2008