Thursday, April 10, 2014

Close Encounters, Part II

I had the pleasure recently of attending a writer's conference at which Annie Bomke spoke. Crap. That sentence sounds very familiar, doesn't it? Gosh, I need some coffee. Or a drink. Or a swift kick in the bum. Anyway, as with the subject of my last close encounters post, you might not know who Annie Bomke is, and again, I won't fault you. But I will give you a few guesses.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Are you done yet?

If you guessed that Annie Bomke is part of the writing world, I would say you get to take home a small prize. What might it be? Who knows. If you guessed that Annie is a literary agent, I would say that you get to take home an even bigger prize, if I had a bigger prize to give you. Unless you clicked on the link above, in which case I'd say that you cheated.

Anyway, Annie Bomke is the owner of Annie Bomke Literary Agency, and one of the agents who revealed all to a large group of wanna-be writers at that recent conference. I learned about what to send in to an agent if you write fiction, what she's looking for in terms of non-fiction, and a bit about marketing ourselves. I learned that agents are not to be feared and that this one in particular cared about her job, her clients, and how they are treated. But what I learned most from her, though, is that I can be a nervous wreck, anywhere, anytime.

Why do I say that? Because after I sat through a wonderful session with Annie, I had a pitch scheduled. What is a pitch? According to About.com, it's "a writer's description of a potential story to an editor." Of course, that story can be pitched to an agent, or a publisher, or even anyone you know that might be interested. Basically, I wanted to tell my story to Annie so that she might say, "Yes, I want to represent you." And I had less than ten minutes to do so.

Oh my.

So there I was, waiting outside the room in which Annie was seated with another writer, practically ripping the skin off of my thumbs (remember, I have that picking problem). And then, when it was time to go in, what did I do? First, I mentioned how cold it was in the room with the wind gusting through the window (way to state the obvious, lady) and then, I fell into my chair. Let me say that again. I fell into my chair. Annie, a stoic look on her face, simply asked, "Are you okay?"

Well no, I wasn't okay. I was mortified. But the band must play on, and so I did. I mumbled and bumbled through my pitch, veering off script and grabbing at my pen so that I had something concrete in my hands--a place to channel my nervousness, if you will. I answered her questions and asked more of my own. And in a flash, my ten minutes were up.

And that's when I felt like I could again come away with something valuable from the conference. I'd already been given a good dose of enthusiasm. This time, I held onto HOPE as I made my way out the door.

The hope to finish up the revisions of my current novel. The hope to continue with the few words I have of a new story. The hope to try to make Beyond the Trees better, and to also haul out Drops of Jupiter from the shelf and rework it until it shines. Quite simply, my interaction with Annie Bomke has given me the hope to continue my quest to become a bonafide writer. And man, as the rain continues to pour (and remember, it's a cold rain), I need all the hope I can get.

So let's help out Annie Bomke, too. Follow her on Twitter, 'like' her on Facebook. Does she need help with her brand? She's an agent, not a writer, but her reputation is at stake. A reputation that, after having done some research on it, is great and well-earned. Many writers who have submitted their manuscripts to her have said, "Dealings with her were very nice," and "Annie was a sweetheart when I dealt with her." But despite her many years in the industry, her own agency is only a few years old. And a reputation must be sustained. It takes a village to raise a child, you know. I think the same can be said for your own business. (Or your own book.)

Three things for you to know:
  1. After the conference was over, I encountered Annie in the women's restroom, where instead of fawning over her, I simply said, "Have a safe flight home." I didn't trip that time.
  2. She did not pay me (nor did she even ask me) to write this.
  3. This post holds the record for the second greatest number of links within any of my posts, EVER.

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