The first is for queriers who are just getting their toes wet in the Query Pond (10:15am)
The second is for those who've sent queries out, have revised a couple times, but still aren't getting results. (1:15pm)
Of course you can come to one or both (or neither: there are some terrific panels happening at the same time!)
If you've never been to a conference here are some things to know:
1. Every single person there is as nervous and apprehensive as you are. Agents too. We're meeting total strangers, some of whom will be writing blog posts on how we interacted with them. Talk about nerve-wracking!
Your take away: don't think everyone else is cool calm and collected and you're the only one there who just might puke with nerves.
2. How much value you get from this conference is directly proportional to how many people you talk to.
Your take away: don't sit down and get out your phone to hide from everyone else. BE the one who greets the person sitting next to you. If they are standoffish, greet someone else.
Remember, a LOT of people are nervous and may come off as cold when in fact they are trying to not puke with nerves.
3. How much value you get from this conference will also be in how brave you are. Got a chance to talk to an agent at lunch? DO IT. (Don't ask if s/he'll read your query. That's asshattery at its finest. Ask about the book of her heart.)
4. Take business cards. Don't have time to get them made? Buy postcards at a gift shop on Sixth Avenue (where the hotel is located) and write your contact info on the back.
What's your contact info? YOUR NAME, your email, your twitter handle, your website. And if you're ready, the name of your book and one sentence about the book.
The Query Shark Guide to Effective Queries
How to write an effective query letter
5. If a panel is not what you thought it would be, or you're not getting anything from it after about 15 minutes, go to another panel. (This is why you sit on the aisle) Leaving a panel is not rude. Being disruptive in your departure is.
6. Take notes at the panel! Keep the handouts. When the panel is done, go back through your notes to flesh them out while the information is fresh in your mind.
A note like: 30 days to follow up might not be as clear in a week as it is right now when you know it means "follow up on a query after 30 days if no response"
A note like "standalone is not cat" will befuddle you next week.
Standalone is not a category will be much clearer.
7. If you're pitching, prepare a very brief introduction to your book, and remember to STOP TALKING so the agent can ask questions.
Example: Hi, my name is Janet Reid. I have a non-fiction book proposal for how to write effective query letters. I am a working literary agent with a blog that has hundreds of thousands of page views, and is widely credited with being one of the best query resources available to writers.
Example: Hi my name is Felix Buttonweezer. I have a completed 98,000 word thriller, The Duchess of Yowl Takes on the Dogs. In it, the Duchess of Yowl must discover how spies have infiltrated the American electoral process, and must do it quickly as the mid-term elections are only days away. Unfortunately, her handler has been kidnapped by dogs, intent on thwarting the voting process and installing dogs in every elected office.
Each agent will have different things they want to know.
If you keep talking, they won't have a chance to ask, and at the end of three minutes, you'll just be sitting there wondering what the hell happened.
I often will interrupt a writer who can't seem to stop, but if they're not looking at me, or reading from a printed page, or have their eyes closed so they can recite from memory, it's hard to get their attention and say "hold on a second, let me ask you this."
Pitching is INTERACTIVE. Make sure you're not the only one talking.
8. Wear comfortable shoes.
9. New York is humid as hell in August and this week looks to be no exception. The hotel will be air conditioned to meat locker temps. Layers. Layers. Layers.
10. Don't stand at the top or bottom of an escalator or staircase. Always be aware of where you are in the flow of traffic. Nothing will make a New Yorker bark at you faster than if you stop at the top of the subway stairs to figure out where you are. (Just keep walking about five steps and you'll be fine.)