Last weekend I attended my first ever writers conference and pitched my books in-person to literary agents! The Indiana Writing Workshop in Indianapolis, hosted by the Writing Day Workshops organization (@WritingDayWksp), brought together about 200 writers from all genres seeking to find their perfect literary agent while learning about publishing from experts in the field. Live pitching my writing is something that I had never before considered doing. But at the dawn of 2018 while setting my new year goals and spending some time praying about them, I had the strongest sense that it was time to try something new. Email querying for both my young adult and middle grade books led to some successes last year, meaning a few requests for partials and full manuscripts here and there, but I seemed no closer to finding that perfect-fit agent who both loved my writing and believed they could sell it. The old saying nagged at me; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
Then I found the Indiana Writing Workshop. Three things about it caught my eye immediately; it was local since Indy is only a 90 minute drive away, it was inexpensive (less than $200 registration fee, plus $29 for each 10 minute agent pitch session), and it featured one of my dream agents Marisa Corvisiero.
I first heard of Marisa around the time I finished the first draft of what became THE PROVING (it was then called “Emergence”, and it was not very good at all). I actually queried her at the L. Perkins Agency in 2011, but got back a response that she had just left to start her own company, the Corvisiero Agency. I kept an eye on the Corvisiero Agency over the years as they grew because they were clearly good at what they did. In Indianapolis, she was scheduled to teach half of the day’s sessions and was taking live pitches! In addition, agent Lesley Sabga was attending from my great friends Carey Corp, Lorie Langdon, and Melissa Landers’ agency (The Seymour Agency), plus another agent from Corvisiero, and several others I’d heard of before. I immediately registered.
The the fun began. A few days after signing up, I received a group email from the workshop organizer looking for local participants who would be willing to drive an agent from the Indy airport to the hotel. Of course I replied *instantly*, figuring the odds weren’t great but that it was at least worth a shot at having time to make friends with a literary agent. Guess who the organizer picked for me to drive? Yeah… Marisa Corvisiero! The day before the conference we spent about 45 minutes chatting as we drove from the airport to the hotel, and it was great. She’s just about the nicest person you can imagine! I talked a little about my work and got to mention my Fifth Grade Fans as a plug for the Magic Stones collection, and learned a lot about how she runs her agency. What a fantastic connection!
The next day arrived, and it was time to live pitch THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP. I was unbelievably nervous… but my first pitch of the day was to Marisa! Her friendliness made it so much easier despite a few anxious screw-ups I still made. She liked the concept a lot, and requested the full manuscript. My day was absolutely made.
Then it got better. I pitched to four other agents that day, and they *all* liked the concept and requested to read Midnight Keep! The workshop really could not have gone any better. I highly recommend Writing Day Workshops for anyone out there trying to get published; they host similar events in cities all across the country. The Corvisiero Agency also does one day workshops, with one in Charlotte, NC in less than a month (March 10, 2018). Knowing Marisa, it will be fantastic.
All of that said, the proof is permanently stuck in some really thick, heavy pudding. Having the manuscript requests is wonderful, but will at least one of these agents love the story and how I wrote it? The wait has begun, and it can be a long one… Alice Speilburg of the Speilburg agency also taught during the workshop, and she announced from the podium that she was currently reading submissions received in October of 2017. As always, patience is the number one personality trait needed in traditional publishing. But even if I don’t find my perfect agent from this experience, I am so glad to have met agents Marisa, Alice, Lesley, Kortney Price, and Cyle Young. Connections are important in *every* business, and publishing is no exception.
In the meantime, I’m writing! I completed an “extended edition” of THE MAGIC STONES OF LAKESDAWN CASTLE a few weeks ago, adding in a few deleted scenes to bump the word count up to a more respectable 40K words. I did a little more concept shaping and sharpening for THE MAGIC STONES OF RIVERSIDE CAVERN, which will be the third book in the Magic Stones collection (I’m almost done the all-important first chapter!). And I’m re-writing my YA fantasy THE PROVING into an entirely different beast. More on that later.
Thanks all, and stay tuned!
~Kevin (The Tome Writer)