After giving brief comments about ourselves and our book "wish lists," we agents answered questions from the audience. The questions were excellent. Here are a few samples:
- Do you need to be a celebrity to sell a memoir? Answer: No. But you need to be a powerful writer with a memorable and life changing story. (One of the agents quipped that it would be very cool if you'd given birth to an alien baby.)
- Is "chick lit" dead? Answer: No. Now it's called women's fiction.
- Is it OK to send a query for a novel that is not completed yet? Answer: NO.
- Is it OK to send a query that includes several projects? Answer: No, no, no.
- What about poetry? Answer: Oh, dear. Most agents love poetry. Trouble is, there is not enough money to go around, so there are few, if any, agents representing the genre.
- Is it best to email or snail mail queries? Answer: It depends on the agent. Find out which format they prefer before sending. There is not a standard answer to this question. It's up to each individual agent.
After the panel discussion, Jon and I had 5-minute "dates" with authors. The authors were splendid--knowledgeable, passionate, innovative and funny. This part of the conference was especially well-managed by the MCCC staff.
All-in-all, it was a great writers conference. Montgomery County Community College is the ideal venue for this event with ample parking, beautiful campus, and great facilities. The writers conference is held every year at this time, so if Philadelphia is nearby, or if you would like to travel to Pennsylvania in the fall, consider going next November.