I've just returned from attending the NOLA Stars Conference in Shreveport. I go nearly every year to this small, friendly gathering with great craft lectures and best of all, a nice array of agents and editors who will take pitches. With two books out and another contracted, I believe I know my craft, but you can always learn more. This year's best hint - when hyping your romance novel to a mostly all male group mention one thing that interests them in your book like tractors or airplanes, and you will get some sales. I guess I should challenge them to check my football research in Goals for a Sinner and Wish for a Sinner. And I will next time. Since several men have read the first book, including my wonderful son-in-law, I know I got facts right and also have been complimented on that.
But mostly, I go to pitch my latest work, ever hopeful of finding an agent. Although I possess the gift of gab as my mother always says, I have as much trouble as anyone pitching to an agent. I do get the clammy hands, the sick stomach, and worst of all, if I lose my thread, I babble. This year, my first pitch to a fresh and friendly young agent went beautifully. I presented a humorous Regency series I have been working on, The Longleigh Chronicles. Feeling very confident of my pitching skills afterward, I made the big mistake of pitching a complicated reincarnation story in the afternoon. Lost in my own words and babbling, the agent finally cut me off very kindly. She said just to send her the book as an e-mail attachment. I apologized for my rambling, and she pointed out that often great pitches did not yield great books, but even poor pitches sometimes resulted in good submissions. Bless her! I truly don't know if either one of these fine agents will take me on as a client. Most likely not. The odds are not high in this business. But, every year, I go pitching again because you have to keep trying.
Besides, I won a big raffle basket of books and got an unexpected trophy for my two books with e-publishers. I also had a nice lunch and met lots of interesting people, well worth the four hour drive and the modest registration fee. So check out the smaller writers' conferences near you and give them a try.