Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Snippets from San Francisco - Part 2

Certain aspects of the RWA Conference surprised me. For whatever reason, some things were just different from what I had expected. I don't mean to imply they were bad...just different.

So, here's my list of "Surprising Things."

  • Name Badges - I had pictured the name badges as being of the smaller, pin-on variety. As you can see, however, they were designed to hang from your neck and display a ton of "flair." (Remember Jennifer Aniston's character from the movie "Office Space?") I'll admit when I registered and received the makings for my badge I had no idea about the proper way to assemble it. A couple of my fellow Pixies showed me how and vowed they would submit an application to host a workshop on Badge Assembly next year. I think the idea's got merit. There were ribbons for "Speakers," "Finalists," "Volunteers," "First Sales," and "First Timers," to name a few. While the badge was handy for holding business cards, hotel room keys, and index cards, it clashed with my outfits. *Sigh.*

  • The Volume of People, and the Volume - I knew that about 2,000 people would be in attendance; I just didn't realize what it would actually feel like when we congregated. I had thought over the course of four days that I'd eventually run into all the people I wanted to meet and see - but I didn't. There were friends I ran into repeatedly and others I never saw. And all those people made a LOT of noise. Particularly in the hotel lobby, where attendees often hung out, there was a lot of commotion. The glossy marble floors and high ceilings allowed the sounds of heels clicking and writers chatting to bounce around the lobby. It was festive and exhilarating, but also a bit overwhelming for a recovering introvert like myself.

  • The Age of Agents - In the publishing business, agents are powerful people. Based on that fact alone, I expected most agents would be middle-aged or older. But the agents I saw were, on the whole, a "younger" crowd. They were incredibly savvy and self-possessed, and their advice was sage. And I can see how their youthful energy and charm could give them a distinct advantage in the industry.

  • Pitch Appointments - These were much more regimented than I had envisioned. I heard people comparing the meetings to speed dating or even prison visits. We were moved through very efficiently, though, and the process ensured that everyone got their allotted time. I also bonded with the people on either side of me in line. :)

  • My Own Gumption - My appointment with an agent was the very last time slot on the very last day. I launched enthusiastically into my pitch, but before I got too far, the agent stopped me and said she didn't think my story was right for her. I listened respectfully to her explanation, but then I told her all the reasons I thought it WAS right for her. (Thank goodness I had done my research.) Though she only ended up asking for a partial, it felt like a major victory. I didn't know I had it in me, but I did the hard sell!

Well, that seems like more than enough for one day. I might be able to eek out one more conference-related post, and I think it will deal with... surreal moments.


Keli Gwyn said...


I'm excited to hear that you pitched so well and with such assertiveness. I hope the requests lead to a sale.

Jen said...

Thanks for another great post for the "fly on the wall" wannabes. Nice to hear that the powerful woman I know, the one who used to (still does?) belt out Heart and Billy Idol songs in between scholarly pursuits, is not taking no for an answer. Way to take full advantage of your opportunities!

Anne Barton said...

Thanks, Keli! Planning out my pitch with you that week before conference was really helpful.

Also, talking with people in line beforehand really calmed my nerves. One writer next to me had gotten separated from her luggage and had to wear the same outfit for the whole conference. We agreed that would be a great conversation starter for her appointment...and would probably get her some much deserved sympathy right off the bat!

Can't wait to hear your reflections on the conference, Keli. I'm gonna head over to your blog...

Anne Barton said...

LOL, Jen! Me? Powerful? Yeah, I have Heart and BI on my iPod. Did you see Heart perform with Fergie on American Idol last season? Those girls STILL rock! :)

Last night, as sort of a family project, we started cataloging all of our CDs. The kids were laughing at my taste in music (Yaz, REM, the Judy Bats) and Mike kept telling them, "That's from Mom's college days." Remember when we saw the Alarm and the Bodeans in London? Good times!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Anne,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the conference. As a fellow introvert, it was nice to hear your views. I think I would find the whole thing quite overwhelming, fun but draining.

Good for you with your pitch. Hope something good comes from it!


Anne Barton said...

Sue, I think a lot of us writers are introverts. Back in college (my friend Jen will remember this), whenever I had a choice between a 5 min oral presentation or a 10 page paper, I would take the paper every time. I think I've gotten a little better over the last few years, but I'm still working on it! :)

I wish you could have been with us to celebrate your GH final, Sue. Thanks for stopping by!

Jen said...

Yes, powerful! A powerful intellect to be sure, plus the kind of power that comes from passion, something you've always had. I admire your drive :)

And your memory - I remembered The Alarm concert, but not the Bodeans. Doh! (Can't wait to drive your kids crazy listening to the "oldies" from the 80s).