Jess & I just got back from the Writer’s League of Texas Pitch Conference held at the Hyatt Regency in Austin (pictured above) and oh man, it was awesome. I could go on and on about it, but instead, here’s a condensed version of the highlights and what I learned:

  1. Agents are people, too. Okay, so this may seem really obvious, but let me explain. As a writer, agents always seemed almost super-human to me. They are the gatekeepers, after all – the ones who deal with the publishers to sell manuscripts. IOW, they are the ones who help determine your success in this business. It’s important to find one who will be a true advocate of your work. And as we learned in a panel entitled, “The Ties that Bind: the Agent/Author Relationship,” it’s imperative to have an agent who will support you, uphold an open communication line with you, and will be honest with you regarding your work, no matter what. This conference was the perfect opportunity for us to meet agents in person – to not only pitch them our manuscripts, but to also see that they aren’t as intimidating as I imagined before. Quite the opposite actually! All of the agents I spoke with were very friendly, engaging, and not scary in the least.
  2. It really is a small world. We were able to meet and talk to a few different YA authors, including Lindsey Scheibe who, by the grace of God, we met during the kickoff breakfast of the conference. She was super nice but more importantly, she took a look at our pitches and let us know (in a very polite way) that they were way too long. She also helped us trim them down in plenty of time to look over and memorize them before our pitch sessions (which I’ll get to in a second). Another author we met happened to be Jessica Lee Anderson – a fellow Hollins grad! It was so fun getting to meet her at the reception. She was a sweetheart!
  3. Pitching isn’t that scary. We had no idea what it would be like – we’d never done this before – but I definitely assumed the act of pitching itself would be much more serious and cut throat than it was. On the contrary, the agent I pitched to, Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties, made me feel right at ease from the moment we shook hands. I introduced myself, pitched my manuscript, and then spent the rest of our ten minutes together chatting about Austin and the fun things to do there. All in all, it was very laid back and relaxed, which I greatly appreciated!
  4. The trip was well worth it. Sure, it was a pretty penny to attend the conference, fly to Austin, etc., but I can honestly say I’m so thrilled we went. Not only did we get to meet different agents (and even got some requests to read some pages, too!), we gained the invaluable experience of learning how to sum up our manuscripts in just a handful of sentences to pitch in a much more easy-going and conversational way than a typical query letter. It’s a skill I’m so appreciative to now have. In addition, we learned how to network with other authors and aspiring authors that are in our same boat.

So, there you have it. Was I happy I went to the WLT Con in Austin? Yes. Would I ever go back? You better believe it! 🙂