Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference

From April 23-25.

I don’t know much about writer’s conferences; I’ve only been to this one.  Nevertheless, I get the impression that good things are happening.

One, I’ve worn more off the edges of Am-I-Really-A-Writer panic at this conference (and getting ready for this conference) than anywhere else, except for actually selling stuff.  Shit yeah, I’m a writer.  I can pitch.  I can debate.  I can talk to big-name writers (except Jeffrey Deaver, who was just too damned monopolized by his Biggest Fans to get a word in edgewise, not that they noticed, with their big sparkly, puppy-dog eyes) without wigging out.  I can get up an read my stuff in front of other people; I can have it read out loud.  These things tie my stomach up in knots, but there you go.

Two, I’ve made friends there, from the kind you figure you’ll know for a while to the ones you know will cheer when you get published (rather than seethe with jealousy).  And it feels good when people ask you whether they should bother pitching to an agent that yes, it’s worth it, even if they don’t want to see your book.  (Don’t forget–they will be making money off you.  You have to interview them even more than they interview you.  What’s their track record?  What’s the last big thing they’ve sold?  How well do they negotiate foreign rights?  What do they think about e-books?  Are they giving you good vibes?  How do they handle themselves around other agents?  Are they more polite to other agents than they are to people who look up to them?)

Three, the workshops.  I’ve had so many AHA! moments that I won’t bother to detail them.  (The workshop list is finally up.)  The only addition I want is more talk about the business side of the house.  How to negotiate a contract.  Taxes.  How to figure out whether a project is worth it or not.  How to do freelance writing and not get screwed too often.  You never see too much of that.

Yeah, the food’s comically bad (but okay for general conference food).  Yeah, there will be at least one writer/agent/editor who bursts your idolatric bubble every year (no names).  Yeah, it sucks coming up with a decent pitch.  Yeah, people will argue about self-publishing until the cows come home, and it gets freakin’ old.  Yeah, it’s an embarrassingly large chunk of change to plop down if you don’t have a manuscript ready to pitch or someone to pitch to.

But when I hear people aren’t going, it just makes me sad.

7 comments

  1. “Yeah, it’s an embarrassingly large chunk of change to plop down if you don’t have a manuscript ready to pitch or someone to pitch to.”
    Man, hit the nail on the head. That’s actually the only reason I’ve never gone to the conference before.

    But it’s really worth it, y’think, huh? 😮

  2. Ian says:

    I’m going. It’s totally worth it if nothing else for the AHA moments and the camaraderie of people who UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A WRITER.

    See you there, DeAnna! 😀

  3. De says:

    I want a What Would Neil Gaiman Do (WWNGD) bracelet. No, I take that back. I want a What Would Neal Stephenson Do (WWNSD) bracelet.

  4. Laura Hayden says:

    Well, the best way to make sure PWPC has the sort of programming you want is to tell us. Preferably when we’re in the formation stages of soliciting workshops from our faculty. It’s a little late for that right now, but I think you’ll like a new workshop we’ve added, called INDUSTRY CLIMATE CHANGE which I think will be very beneficial to writers on all levels/genres. We’re having our editors discuss what industry wide changes they foresee in our immediate future. As to how to negotiate a contract, I’d suggest that is best left to your agent or in the absence of one, your literary attorney. But that would be an excellent workshop to suggest for 2011.

  5. De says:

    Writers still need to know how to negotiate contracts – whether there’s another negotiating pro on their side or not. How else will they know what they’re getting into?

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