I nabbed two business cards at the 2010 Writers’ League of Texas conference. I had one pitch session with an agent where I got ten minutes to tell her about my book, and she asked for pages. I pitched to another in the bar, and she requested pages, too.
However, the conference wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be. Even during the cocktail parties where the conference literature said we could find the agents and do a short pitch along with everyone else, my friends and I couldn’t find the agents. We found a handful and spoke with them, but didn’t see more than half of them. We searched for an hour and a half. We asked for them. We met many writers who were also confused. Later, when the party was almost over and my friends and I headed out for dinner, we spotted one of the agents hiding in the bar, without his nametag on, watching the game.
I could see having enough of crowds, of not wanting to hear another pitch, but am I wrong in assuming his agency was paying him to be there to scout clients? What does it say about him and the agency he represents that he hid from conference goers? And where were the others? For most of the day, the agents were sequestered away, either giving those ten minute sessions I mentioned or speaking on panels that were mostly about marketing. It was very hard to find an agent to pitch to. In the end, we didn’t even see some of those listed in the conference materials. We started to wonder if they were even there.
And then, on Sunday afternoon at the last conference function, we were promised a “rapid fire” pitch session. All the conference attendees would sit at large round tables (seating nine) and the agents would go from table to table. Each person had one minute tops to pitch, and the agent would decide who he/she wanted pages from. Well, my friends and I were seated at a table with an agent who not only didn’t represent our genres, he didn’t represent those of the other people, either.
We thought it was no problem. Another agent would be along shortly. But then we were informed that there were “too many people” who wanted to participate and that our one agent was it. We had to vacate the table and the room, and they took our nametags so we couldn’t get back in. So, not only did we not get this “last opportunity to pitch” we’d been promised, we still didn’t see any of the agents we’d missed who represented our genres.
I was hopping mad. As a group, we’re writing an angry letter and hereby not recommending this conference to anyone ever again. Needless to say, I felt extremely ripped off. It’s not like we hid for most of the conference. We only went to our rooms to sleep. The rest of our time was spent searching for these agents, the reason we were there, the reason TO BE there if the conference literature was to be believed.
So, now I’m going to focus on the two cards I did score and get my first few chapters in order. Anyone else have any conference horror stories? Or how about some uplifting stories? I could use some good news to cheer me up.