Sunday, November 11, 2007

Forget what you learned in kindergarten.. most of what I know about marketing I learned from Madonna

And it's really simple: be ready for opportunity to strike.

Some, ok many, years ago, Madonna was an unknown singer in New York. She wanted to be better known, have a record deal, have people hire her to sing. She made some demo tapes. They weren't that great, but they were at least actual demo tapes. And she carried them with her everywhere she went. Everywhere. To the bodega. To art parties. To clubs. Everywhere. She was ready if she met someone who could help her.

She was ready for opportunity to knock.

I was reminded of that this weekend.

Almost every single time I said "that sounds interesting, do you have pages?" the answer was no.

I know writing conferences, and conference organizers are VERY sensitive to agents being inundated with unrequested pages. I know they say "don't expect to give pages to an agent in a pitch session".

That's not wrong, and I'm not saying you should expect all agents to ask for pages. I'm not saying you should EVER say "do you want to see pages" and you should never slide pages under the agent's hotel room door or bathroom stall door (all those have happened so I've heard.)

What I'm saying is to be ready if one does. Carry your pages with you in your car, or have them in your hotel room, or carry the first chapter in your purse. Be ready.

I asked 56 people for pages this weekend. 5 were ready, and those were the people who attended a workshop on how to craft their pitch. I read and critiqued their pages. It wasn't on the conference schedule. It wasn't planned. It just happened. They were ready. Are you?


Morgan said...

I will be now!

Zany Mom said...

I'm not a boy scout, but isn't their motto 'be prepared?'

Next time I'm at a conference, I hope I have a pitch *and* pages!

Mags said...

56? Okay, I am DEFINITELY writing in the wrong genre! That's awesome.

Josephine Damian said...

Ok. But what if your WIP is just that, in progress, under way, or worse, barely started? What if all you've completed is the WIP's first chapter, do you whip it out when asked?

Is that not a case of premature evaluation on the agent's part to consider an incomplete work?

Heidi Willis said...

this is why I am asking for a larger laptop bag for Christmas!

ryan field said...

It's a little shocking that only 5 had pages. I would have thought the numbers would be reversed.

Maybe this is because so many people are "electronic" these days and don't deal with hard copy? Last month I "signed" a contract simply by sending an e-mail, which was considered my "electronic signiture" to a magazine, and this month I'm getting paid through Paypal(I have no idea how this works, but it was a good deal and I guess I'll figure out how to get my money). But new writers have to realize that a great deal of publishing still depends on hard copy, and yes, they have to be prepared with actual pages.

Chris Eldin said...

Oh man.
I haven't been to a children's book writer's conference in a while, but when I last went, I couldn't believe how many hapless-looking housewives I saw. At least comb your hair and put a dash of makeup on (we're mostly women in this genre)!

And bring your work!!!

On a different note, it sounds like it was fun. Glad you had a good time.

Do agents hang out with other agents, or do agents hang out with editors? In other words--is it truly nirvana?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

"Goats don't have pockets. What does one do when they're at the mercy of a flighty mistress?"--Bill E. Goat

Gerry Hatrić said...

Getting there (with your help).

Last comment for now, I promise. :)

Liana Brooks said...

Josephine Damian - If the work isn't finished you probably aren't ready for the pitch sessions for just this reason. Conferences are a great learning experience, but if your novel isn't ready to query (or at least getting close) then there are some aspects of the conference you might want to skip.

Janet- A good reminder, thank you. I always wondered whether the agents would want hard copy, or just want it e-mailed later in the day.

Nancy Naigle said...

People be ready! Just about every hotel has a business center these days. At the very least have that file on a thumb drive/memory stick so you are just a few clicks away from a printout at all times :)

I'm ready for you Janet -- and I will be at Crime Bake. See you in Boston.


Kathryn Neff Perry said...

In my purse? You mean beside the peanut butter sandwich?
Thanks for the advice!

Lydia Smith said...

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” ...

Thanks for the post. It was inspiring.

Jenna Ryan, SelfLoveU said...

Nice blog! Thank you for the advice.

Athenian said...

Thank you so much for this - it would never have occurred to me to have actual physical pages . . . just my iPad

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

Great point! This is not just being ready for opportunity to knock. This is stalking opportunity until you catch it alone!