Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I sat on the agents' panel at the Montgomery County Community College Writers Conference in Blue Bell, PA last weekend. The entire affair was classy and smoothly run. As usual at these events, I don't know who benefited more, the agents or the authors.

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.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Sounds like a good time all the way around.

DebraLSchubert said...

Sorry I missed it, but I'm so glad you and Jon had a positive experience! Will pencil it in for next year. ;-)

Hal said...

Thanks for the positive feedback. Your participation in the conference was noteworthy: many of the attendees who went on the "dates" were very pleased with your professionalism, support, and constructive criticism. Thanks for participating!

-Dr. Hal Halbert, Conference Coordinator

C. Patrick Schulze said...

I just came from the James River Writers' Conference and the same questions surfaced. So did the identical answers.

It's nice to see everyone in the publishing world is so willing to pass along their knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have found this blog; how enlightening and heartening! It's an exciting, frustrating, frightening, brilliant and overwhelming road, looking for an agent and it's inspiring to read a blog by actual agents, real live people. :)

(I am amused that the word verification of this post is "carions.")

Thank you for keeping this blog!

Dana said...

Sounds interesting. I, too, am glad you are keeping a blog.

kinder/caring said...

A dream of mine is to publish an educational book...