Wednesday, 2 November 2011

News from the Niagara Conference

I have finally gotten back from the New York comes to Niagara Conference and had a moment to breathe and write this blog entry. :) It was an incredible weekend spent with 28 other writers at the Old Stone Inn in Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

Before the conference, each writer was asked to prepare a pitch that described his or her book in 200 words or less.  Pitches were supposed to end on a cliffhanger, so agents or editors would be left wanting to know what happens to the characters.  I had a bit of trouble with this, since the book I was pitching was not a novel, but a collection of five historical short stories, told in three-year intervals.  As it turned out, though, when it came my turn to practice pitch on Thursday, no one could find much wrong with my pitch.  The organizer of the conference suggested a title change (The book was originally called Beyond Reason, and he suggested Time of Orange), but I chose not to accept this.  There is nothing wrong with the title Time of Orange, but I didn’t think it fit the book as well as my original title.  I might use Time of Orange for a story in future.

Friday, we had two guest speakers—Terry Fallis, winner of the Stephen Leacock medal, and Barbara Kyle.  Both were extremely interesting, and Terry is one of the funniest people I have ever met.  They spoke of their respective journeys to publishing (Terry through self-publishing, and Barbara through traditional), as well as their techniques for creating a new book.

On Saturday, we finally had the chance to pitch.  There were five professionals who might be interested in our work, including editors from Random House and Penguin, and two agents from The Rights Factory.  Unfortunately, having two agents from the same house meant that if one asked for material, there was little point in pitching the other.  I had two nibbles for Beyond Reason.  I expected the book would be a bit of a hard sell, being, as it is, both a collection of short stories, and a tragedy. 

However— and here’s the big news—Sam Hiyate of the Rights Factory asked to read the first story, and indicated that if he liked the voice in which I wrote, he would consider working with me to alter the ending; and Caitlin Alexander from Random House asked for the first 30 pages.  I’ll be sending those out later today, and will let you all know how it goes.

More importantly, as far as I’m concerned, I received two offers for internships.  I’m currently a second-year law student, but have little interest in actually practicing law—unless, perhaps, it's entertainment law.  I love contracts, and I love books, and I decided several years ago that it would be a good idea to meld the two and become a literary agent.  One of the agents at the conference told me “No one actually wants to be a literary agent; people just end up literary agents,” but she was pretty enthusiastic about my interest despite this.  Here’s hoping! 

So, while the conference was expensive to attend, I think between the manuscript requests and the job offer/internship possibility, it was well worth it!

* Congrats to all the other writers at the conference who were asked to send partial or full manuscripts to any of the editors and agents attending!

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