Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Conference So Far

Big Sur. . .Henry Miller Library. . .and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency = one helluva writer's workshop.

Now, all we need to do is get every agency out there on board with a similar effort. That way we can really get to know the agents and understand who we want more than any other agent out there.

I loved it!

If you've never been, the time to go would be this coming March. That will be their 15th year of sponsoring the writer's workshop in Big Sur.

There are only about 50 or 60 writer's that attend. They keep the numbers low so that the critique groups are small. There are 5 writers to 1 agent, editor or author. You are placed in two critique groups and each group meets twice. This is designed to help you work on revisions. You get critiqued then you go off and revise at night or during the lunch break on Saturday and then bring the revision back to your group for another critique. You can bring two projects if you want.

My critique group 1 was with Jennifer Laughran (agent). She's funny. I liked my time with her and my group. I learned a lot and we got to be ourselves.

Critique group 2 was with Ellen Hopkins (author of Crank and many other books). This group was very good. Joy Preble (author of Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted) was in my group working on another book. All very lovely people in all of my sessions.

I learned so much and am excited to really focus in on the story everyone thought had an important message. I'm hoping to have revisions done and ready to query by March of next year.

There are also panels with editors, authors and the agents. I learned the most interesting thing from the editor panel. Both Random House and Chronicle books laid out the process from acquisitions to sales and came up with the same time frame. More or less from the point an editor finds your book interesting and wants to buy it takes four years to get it on the shelf.

FOUR YEARS!? Wow. At first I didn't believe it, not because I think they are liars, I just wanted to find out from a published author. So, I asked Joy Preble, "How long before your first book got on the shelf?" She said thought back a bit and then said, "Four years." She explained that during that time she wrote the other books in her series and they came out one year after each other so the process sped up significantly.

DID YOU KNOW THAT? I thought maybe two years but not four. That's okay, I just didn't expect that. The way the editors went on to explain the publishing process they said authors of picture books have a harder time because they have another factor which is the illustrator. When the illustrator is hired that doesn't mean they have time to work on your book right away. It might take a year before they are done with another project and can start yours. Very interesting stuff.

Anyway. I hope everyone had a great and productive year of writing, querying and conferencing.

For those of you who had been following me and knew I dropped off the planet to help care for my mom who was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer this January, I want to let you know she is still doing well. She's beating the odds. They gave her 3 months and she's going on a year. I'm looking forward to having a big family Christmas in Utah with my mom and my sisters.

Happy Holidays!