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:~: Saturday, February 03, 2007 :~:

Making A Fool Of Yourself

Over at Magical Musings today, guest blogger, agent Ginger Clark with Curtis Brown is talking about writer do's and don'ts at conferences. If you are unagented (or uneditored...ROFL, don't think that's a word), and hope to make an impression at an upcoming conference, you should go read the post.

I was going to reply there, but then decided not to embarrass myself and instead am doing it here (aren't you thrilled?!).

Have you ever made a total fool of yourself at a conference? I have. In more ways than one. The one I pulled in front of an agent though went like this:

Last summer in Atlanta, my roommate and I went down to check out the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. The room was fairly empty as we were there late. We walked through the space and checked out the goods, and at one table I spotted an agent whom I'd recently sent a partial, sitting at a table full of handmade jewelry. Now, I'm sure you know who this agent is, but I'm not going to say her name. She didn't offer representation, but the rejection letter she sent me was the nicest one I'd ever received. It stuck with me for a long time. While my story didn't fit with what she was looking for, she had extremely nice things to say about my writing and premise and story telling abilities, and in the letter she predicted I would land an agent very soon. As of conference time, I still hadn't landed an agent, and while I know no means no and had no intention of trying to worm my way into this woman's agency, I decided to go up and introduce myself and tell her how much her letter meant to me. Because it really did. Changed my outlook on my writing in a very positive way.

So, I approached said agent, introduced myself and went off on a tangent about how much I appreciated her rejection letter.

She looked at me like I had a third eye smack in the middle of my forehead. And as I was rambling I had the odd sense that all she heard was, "I'm Elisabeth Naughton and you REJECTED ME."

Of course, my faux pas was that I approached her while she was doing something non-agent - like working a booth at the bazaar. But since I wasn't trying to pitch anything to her, I didn't think that was a bad thing. After I went through my unrehearsed babbling, she looked at me with a very wary expression and said, "Okay, um, thanks." and then promptly turned away. I can only imagine she was thinking: STALKER. GET ME OUT OF HERE! Another person who wants to argue over a rejection I sent!

I went and found my roommate and told her I thought I might have made a complete fool of myself, which I probably did, but to this day I'm still glad I went up to her. Whether she thought I was a stalker or not, her words in that letter were true and encouraging, and to someone who had been struggling to find someone who loved their work, it meant a lot. And she was right. A month after conference, I found my agent.

So share your embarrassing conference stories here. I'd love to know I'm not alone. :)

Labels:

12Comments:

Blogger Paty Jager said...

I did kind of the same thing at ECWC this past fall. There was an editor talking in a workshop I attended. She was the final judge of a contest I finaled in at that conference 5-6 years ago. At the time she said she loved my writing and said she couldn't place me any higher because the hero hadn't come into the story soon enough. But requested the full. She rejected the manuscript because of plot problems but said she loved my writing. And I had sent another story to her and was just, you know, hoping to help her put a face to a name.

Well, I went up after the workshop and introduced myself and just said I liked what she had to say in the workshop and was happy to have the chance to just say hi, again. She looked at me like she hadn't a clue who I was and looked around like she was looking for a way to escape!

I learned my lesson. Don't expect an editor or agent to remember you!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Well, I haven't done that, but I can promise you, E, I've done my share of STUPID things. So, don't feel bad. (For too long anyway.)

3:49 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Paty. I think it would be hard to be an editor or agent and remember each person who submitted something to you - whether it was good or bad.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oh, sure, J. You say you've done them, yet you don't share??? LOL

Okay, wait. The one you blogged about over at Romance Worth Killing For a bit ago was pretty embarressing. I guess that counts even if it didn't happen at a conference. :)

9:36 AM  
Blogger Piper Lee said...

The first conference I ever attended was Emerald City. I knew nothing about the business then. In all honesty, I knew nothing about the craft of writing either. I was brand new to the chapter and brand new to networking.

Each morning we were invited to eat these wonderful breakfasts in the dining room with everyone; editors, agents, NYT Best Sellers, normal people, *grin* etc.

As you know Eli, I'm sooo not a morning person, and I didn't want to deal with any networking yet; I was at the conference to learn craft, only.

So the first morning I roll outta bed, throw on a sweatshirt and jeans, finger fluff my hair, scrub my teeth, and then, still bleary eyed, I head to the dining room. I get in line and pile yummy breakfast stuff all over my plate and go in search of a table with at least one person I know. Ha! I got lucky, there sat Danita and Paty with plenty of room at the table for me! So I sit down and begin to scarf. Well, a couple of gals come to our table and ask if we'll share. Of course we say yes, even though we had no clue who or what they are. We all begin to chat and continue to pig out; we laugh and are in the midst of, really, a general blast in my opinion, and then introductions of who and what we are start.

Crap! I've just sat there for the last 20 minutes with a big New York agent and an up and coming editor, (now bigwig editor) being ME! Smack me upside the fricken head! Had I known I was sitting with the BIGWIGS I'd have tried to keep my mouth shut! Needless to say, I was my usual big mouth self jabbering about whatever popped into my head. Who knows what the hell I said and what the hell they thought of me after that breakfast; but, I'm sure they forgot all about it and I didn't scar them for life. I remember we laughed a lot, so that's probably a good thing.

The great thing about the conference was I got to chat with my (then) favorite author and have her sign her/my books! So the conference was a fun learning experience, but, unfortunately, I'm still me. LOL

10:20 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Piper. But you were being you, and that's a good thing. I bet they appreciated the fact you weren't nervously pulling punches or trying to make a good impression.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Sorry, Elisabeth. Never been to a fiction conference, and any other type conferences I've attended (of the non-fiction variety) were as a publisher. But no author ever behaved badly to me. I remember one, she'd been my law lecturer during my MA, and I mentioned that to her. She about fell out of her chair in surprise :).

1:00 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFL, Michelle. Now that would have been funny!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa Pulliam said...

What if I say that moment was embarassing enough for the both of us??? I'm kidding! Totally kidding! Although, it was more like a 3rd head, not a 3rd eye.

I don't have one that I can think of yet, unless I've blocked it from my mind. But I'm sure there will be a couple of them in Dallas as I'll be more active about agent hunting then. Sheesh. Now I'm nervous.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Ack! Lisa, you were supposed to say it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought!!!

Ugh. And you want me to go again so I can embarrass myself all over again???? ROFL. Yeah, right.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

:) She was a real sweetheart as a lecturer, but I think the idea of a former student as her new publisher was a little hard to get her mind around.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Edie said...

I wish I could say I had no embarrassing memories. I had an agent appointment at a conference, and I froze. I couldn't think of anything to say. So embarrassing. I ended up leaving early.

The weird thing is I saw her the next year and was yakking to her a couple times. I think I made such a fool out of myself at the first conference, I felt I couldn't do anything worse.

5:36 PM  

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