Last weekend I attended the Desert Dreams Conference in Arizona. I went because I decided not to go to RWA Nationals this year. Small conferences are always interesting. I’d actually recommend them over larger conferences if you want to meet industry folks. The conference held a dinner on the first night. They assigned different genres to different tables. I chose to sit at the Young Adult table. I didn’t know anyone at the table, including the agent, Janet Reid from FinePrint Literary Management. Turns out she doesn’t represent Young Adult books, but was kind enough to pass advice onto everyone at the table. She’s a VERY funny lady. Quite direct, but extremely sharp. Wicked sense of humor. I wasn’t familiar with her blog, but several of the people at the table seemed to follow her.
I decided not to pitch any work at the conference. I could have, but I don’t want to be rushed to complete the books. What I did do instead is try to speak with as many industry people as possible. I didn’t ask how the business was or what trends they see coming. Instead, I focused on their personalities. I wanted to see what type of people they were and if they’d be the type of people I’d want to work with long-term. (I’m sure you’re thinking that they have to decide they want to work with me based on the novel. That’s true, but I’ve had enough unpleasant industry relationships. If I can avoid another, I will.) For me that means talking to as many industry folks as I can. I now know that if I wrote what Janet Reid was looking for, I’d probably have a decent relationship with her. We both have potty mouths and we’re both very direct. She’s fierce when it comes to her clients, which is an admirable trait.
I had a nice chat with Miriam Kriss about comics and Joss Whedon. We’ll agree to disagree about his abilities to direct the Avengers. *ggg* I also had a short conversation with Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks. She seemed like a nice lady. I found out that Sourcebooks really isn’t looking for straight urban fantasy. They want urban fantasy romance instead. (Kind of wish I would’ve known that before I edited much of the romance out of my urban fantasy and had my ex-agent send it. Ha!) I sat next to Laurie Rauch from Samhain at the Saturday lunch. I take full credit for hooking her on Plants vs Zombies. (You can thank me later, Laurie.)
I must say the iPad was a terrific conversation starter. No one else at the conference had one to my knowledge and everyone wanted to see it. I really think Apple should pay me for all the sales pitches I gave. 😉
I attended a few talks. One was ‘How to Maintain a Publishing Career’. No, that wasn’t the title, but it was close enough. Jennifer Ashley gave the talk and did a wonderful job. For those of you not familiar with Jennifer, she has a ton of pen names. All of which were created to keep her publishing regularly. The bottom line is if you want to maintain/launch/start over, then you have to be willing to write your ass off for more than one publisher under more than one name. If a name isn’t working, dump it and come up with a new one. Easy, eh? LOL! I actually thought it was pretty good advice.
I also attended a talk on Organizing the Chaos in ones writing life. If you ever have a chance to attend Robin Lee Hatcher’s talk on this subject–DO IT!!! She gave a lot of amazing tidbits of advice. It takes a lot of work to put together everything about the book before you start writing, but she shows in great detail how much it will help you in the long run. Don’t believe me? Go to the Desert Rose website and order the conference tape. I plan to implement several of her ideas.
It was nice seeing several writing friends that I haven’t seen in years. I think I even became better friends with one of them. I came home energized and exhausted. A perfect combination for any author.
Next up on the conference trail will be Novelist Inc. in St. Pete, Florida. Disneyworld and Universal Studios here I come. 🙂