[chart by Susan J. Morris at http://www.susanjmorris.com/]
I did *some* research before I went to the TMCC writer’s conference last weekend.
I thought I was fairly prepared for the experience. I had read through the little paragraph summaries of each person you could meet with, picked the one that seemed to most fit with my project, and signed up for a $35 10-minute meeting with an agent.
I read that I should bring a few copies of my synopsis of my book; that I should print out chapters 1-3 in case someone asked for it; that I should have a query letter ready. I did the first two of those ahead of time, and wrote out a query letter during the conference as one of the speakers guided us through the process.
The meeting was almost completely unhelpful. Here’s what I did wrong (and hopefully can help someone else to do right!)
- I didn’t research the agent very well. Yes, I did read the paragraph blurbs on the conference website but AFTER I had paid the $35, I went to his agency’s website and read more about him. Turns out he doesn’t like fantasy, which is my genre. Oops! That’s ok, I thought. I’ll just find out from him what I should do *next time* I meet with an agent. There was another agent there I wish I had met with instead.
- I had no idea what sub-genre my book was. My query letter called it ‘fantasy’, but apparently that was not nearly specific enough. We wasted like 4 of the 10 minutes with him listing off sub-genres of fantasy without describing what any of them actually are and asking me if my book fit into any of them. Since I didn’t know what any of them were, I had no idea. Turns out it’s a ‘portal fantasy’, which I dismissed immediately when he said it because it sounds silly. It also is not on any of the ‘Fantasy sub-genre’ images I found. Did my research after the fact to find out what all the subgenres were.
- My book was way too short. I had read on some website somewhere that 40,000-65,000 was a good word count for a young adult book. That may be true, but apparently young adult *fantasy* is running about 100,000 words these days. Whatever!
- I only had time to ask 1 question, which was, “How’s this query letter, and what should I change?” Did not get an answer.
So there you have it. It was a totally lame experience. The conference itself gave me all kinds of good tips though, and I am really looking forward to the local one here in September!