Category Archives: writing conference

Five Hundred Writers in Search of an Agent

There we were, five hundred attendees at a conference wearing “Character” tags around our necks and carrying totes emblazoned with the same word. A clown convention, you ask? No, nothing other than the 57th annual PNWA’s Writers Conference, which just concluded this week. Of course I don’t know of a writer who isn’t, in some way, a character.

You could cut through much of this Seattle summer in UGGS and a down parka. Throughout the conference, it was day after day of forecasts reading “a high of 67.˚” And nature even threw in a little rain. Everyone from all the baking and broiling states had to love it.

Writers attend a writers conference for a host of reasons: to hone our craft, to get out of the house and find our tribe, but the biggest catch of all has to be landing an agent. From the moment the registration desks opened, there were power pitch sign-ups and opportunities to practice one’s pitch with fellow attendees. Scheduled into Power Pitch Blocks A-F over the course of the next few days, we were just out of the gate and everything was building to the pitch: the 3 minute opportunity to capture the imagination of an agent. Each writer would have a few stabs at it, as many agents and editors as one writer could see inside a designated block of time. Entering the big top for Power Pitch A, I didn’t know how this would work.

The agents and editors were seated at one impossibly long table with a perpendicular row of chairs before each one. This is where the expectant writers sat, moving up one chair at a time, until it was our time to pitch. And if I think the pressure was on us, I can only imagine what it must have been to be the agent or editor—much like the target in a carnival booth. Receiving one pitch after another, after another….

I fit in four pitches and had requests from each agent to send material. Exhausted and elated, the conference ended. Now home to deliver. To anyone out there who wants to be a writer, I hope you have a lifetime as it may take it. Perseverance, passion, and a bit of carnival-like luck.

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