Friday, September 30, 2005

The Power of a Press Pass, or...

Give me a little of that Instant Karma.

You just never know when those karmic promissory notes are going to start paying off. Today was one of those days. I attended a writers conference/book festival today, both as a hopeful novelist and as a working journalist.

The sessions were interesting, but when you are surrounded by other aspiring writers it's very easy to get discouraged. How can all of those people not be good enough? They ask intelligent questions, they wear matching socks, and I saw one woman walking and chewing gum at the same time. These are smart people, and they aren't published, or worse, they paid for their own publishing -- a scary prospect for a guy who needs to get paid for his work. I just keep telling myself that smart people don't always do smart things. I've read enough of their writing to know that they don't always write smart things, either.

The first session I attended was led by two editors who explained how they found books. If you are unfamiliar with the practice of Santeria, this would have been an enlightening workshop for you. Session two was with an agent who grew up in Alabama. Sharp, focused, and prepared, this guy rocked the house. I wouldn't have dreamed that an agent would get a standing "O", but I swear it happened. After lunch I sat through a session on plotting with a "New York Times Bestselling Author of Big International Thrillers." Good stuff, this guy is actually a local, and has his own writers group here (almost entirely female, hmmmm) . I don't write plot driven fiction, but seeing another writer's mind at work is always interesting, and watching the women fawn over him (including his companion, who was almost, but not quite, too young -- and absolutely too pretty-- for him) made me decide to work doubly hard to sell Transit Gloria and get famous.

The final session of the day was bizarre. The writer, Ms. Bigshot 3-Book-Deal, who lead the session was hilarious, seemed to be pitching her own career as a comedienne and doing a really good job of it. She videotaped her own session (no explanation provided), and had everyone in the room laughing out loud. After the session, I went down to the signing arena, and started interviewing authors. The woman writer from the last session saw my press pass and asked me to interview her. Afterwards, she asked me to email her a picture I had just taken.

I said I'd be happy to, but that the email would come with my query letter and synopis attached. She said she'd be happy to look at my writing -- so I immediately handed her my packet of partials. She read the query, said she loved my hook (4H and all), read my synopsis and the first paragraphs of my first three chapters. She said she loved my writing, and she knew just the agent to represent me. She gave me the agent's email address and said I should tell her that Ms. Bigshot 3-Book-Deal recommended me.

Now, I've been studying the writing business long enough to be skeptical of almost everything, so when I got home, I did some research.

The agent is not just the real deal, but discovered one of the best selling books of all time, one that went on to become a blockbuster movie with Academy Frickin' Award-winning actors. So, I think, Cool.

Ms. Bigshot 3-Book-Deal is not just the real deal, but one of my mentors interviewed her a while back. As it turns out, Ms. Bigshot 3-Book-Deal once discovered a Book of the Year Award-winning writer... wait for it... at a writers conference -- where she gave him the name of an agent to contact.

Gimme a little of that Instant Karma. Go ahead, you can touch my robe.

Mark Pettus,
Friday, September 30, 2005

4 comments so far. Thank you, Anonymous Ancient Eagle (Absolute Write Water Cooler), Blogger serenity, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Caryn,

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at 10:51 PM Anonymous Ancient Eagle (Absolute Write Water Cooler) said...


Congratulations. I enjoyed both these entries, and am impressed by your good fortune (which, of course, only comes to those who work at it and are prepared when it appears.) Also liked the bit of Transit Gloria and hope to read it all before long.

Best of luck.

at 9:45 PM Blogger serenity said...

Once you sign with the agent and go on to be a bigshot author, will you refer me? LoL! I need some of that luck.

at 12:57 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Hey, I'm a huge fan of the movie, Pay it Forward. Send me a few pages, I'd like to see your writing.

at 3:02 PM Blogger Caryn said...

"I said I'd be happy to, but that the email would come with my query letter and synopis attached." Great thinking! Sounds like your gumption paid off, too.

I, too, have felt overwhelmed at writers' conferences, looking around at all the competition, wondering how I could possibly be noticed, how I could measure up. I try not to think about it. My dream agent receives 500 queries a week. I try not to think about that, either. All in all, I'm going to need to stop thinking, period.


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