28 March, 2014

Fiction Friday: Agents & Editors can Make or Break a Conference

Last weekend I attended the Unicorn Writers' Conference for the first time. A small, Connecticut conference in its fifth year, it draws a national audience of writers from a widely diverse genres, everything from romance and mystery to paranormal and non-fiction. In fact, one writer characterized his work as "a novel of Time, Magic, Myth, Murder & the American Revolution."

Arriving at the gorgeous venue — St. Clement' Castle — I was reminded of how much I enjoy to opportunity to mingle with other writers, swapping experiences and war stories. 

Maybe I've become jaded, but it seems to me that every conference has the same panels and workshops.  How many times do you need to be told to spell check your work before submitting, or to check out an agent's interests before querying?

I find I'm far less attracted by sessions than opportunities for critiques and personal interaction.
While most conferences provide some opportunity for manuscript reviews and agent pitches, Unicorn has one of the largest panels of agents and editors.  This year there were a total of 32!

In addition to sessions and one-on-one manuscript review sessions (at an additional, but very reasonable price), opportunities to meet and mingle with fellow writers and agents/editors abounded.  A buffet breakfast, sit down lunch, cocktails, and finally a buffet dinner. These informal interactions are so important because yes, we all want to sign with an agent, but it's also nice to get to know that agent, to understand if your personalities are going to mesh.  All to often, writers sign with agents they've never met face to face--and may not meet for years.  In person is so much preferable to phone/email/text/IM when you're signing on for that all important working relationship.

I had signed up for one review, but after the editor panel (there were also 3 agent panels) I signed up for a session with an editor from Kensington Press.  Although she had not had the opportunity to read my manuscript, Esi Sogah spend a half hour with me discussing concepts and ideas.  In all honesty, that half hour was the most productive session I've had at a conference in a long time.

I came home with a list of revisions to make and questions to ponder.  All in all, a good conference! Plus I met some very nice agents and some I know I don't need to query.

If you're curious, here's the list of agents/editors from Unicorn 2014.
  • Meredith Bernstein, Literary Agent
  • Mackenzie Brady, Literary Agent
  • Malaga Baldi, Literary Agent
  • Regina Brooks, Literary Agent
  • Dawn Dowdle, Literary Agent
  • Stephany Evans, Literary Agent
  • Jita Fumich, Literary Agent
  • Doug Brad, Literary Agent
  • Christina Hogrebe, Literary Agent
  • Carrie Howland, Literary Agent
  • Katie Kotchman, Literary Agent
  • Sandy Lu, Literary Agent
  • Erica Rand Silverman, Literary Agent
  • Kathleen Nishimoto, Literary Agent
  • Gina Panettieri, Literary Agent
  • Laura Blake Peterson, Literary Agent
  • Rita Rosenkranz, Literary Agent
  • Shira Hoffman, Literary Agent
  • John Rudolph, Literary Agent
  • Katharine Sands, Literary Agent
  • Rachael Dugas, Literary Agent
  • Alec Shane, Literary Agent
  • Brooks Sherman, Literary Agent
  • Bridget Smith, Literary Agent
  • Julie Stevenson, Literary Agent
  • Sarah Younger, Literary Agent
  • tephen Frazer, Literary Agent
  • Stacey Barney Editor, Penguin
  • Rose Hilliard, Editor, St. Martin’s Press
  • Elizabeth Poteet, Editor, St. Martin’s Press
  • Esi Sogha, Editor, Kensington Books
  • Annie Stone, Editor, Harlequin

1 comment:

  1. Wow sounds like an amazing conference. And how wonderful for the one on one with Esi Sogha!