If you are writing a memoir (or any book for that matter), writing conferences are opportunities to meet publishers and literary agents. Sometimes the agent and publisher are on panels or they are sole seminar presenters. Sometimes you get the serendipity effect, like what happened at the Crime Writers of Canada Bloody Words Convention in Toronto May 29.
For the banquet I headed towards the table where Michael, a colleague and friend, was sitting, plunked myself down and introduced myself to the lady on my right. Yup, you guessed it – she is a literary agent from New York City. We got talking. She doesn’t handle memoirs, not even much non-fiction, but she is looking for certain categories of fiction. As I am also a freelance book editor, that got my attention. So I asked further and found she’s looking for what one of my editing clients is writing. We talked some more and the gist of it is I have valuable information and a lead to a literary agent for my client.
I didn’t go away empty-handed with my own memoir writing. One panel featured librarians from across southern Ontario. Well, they aren’t going to help me get my book published, but as part of my marketing plan, I’m teaching memoir writing workshops to seniors in the Toronto public library system. A branch librarian approached me last month to do so and since then I’ve been doing my own approaching (via phone and e-mail) to the programming librarians at other branches – I’m not going to get to them all – Toronto has 99 library branches. And I do my research at their websites to see what they have and what they need.
So after the panel discussion, I talked to the librarian from the Toronto branch. Result: she gave me the name of the librarian looking after branch programming. But I also have an “in” (besides already having one workshop gig) – the contact with this branch librarian at the conference.
As an added bonus, I also spoke to another librarian panelist – this one in a different Ontario city – because they do a lot of promoting of southern Ontario book authors. Another author and I have a jointly-written novella coming out later this month – (e-publishing and print, but that’s for another post) – so I have made another valuable contact here.
You can also chat with other authors and exchange information that can provide valuable leads. Just remember: you can help the other person as well – obviously for the agent, he or she may get another author for a client; the librarians – they get someone valuable for their programming, which brings in people to the library. It is a win-win situation.
And now, I have to finish getting ready for yet one more publishing writing/conference – MagNet – also in downtown Toronto. One of the seminars I’m attending features a NYC literary agent talking about transforming yourself from journalist to book author.