I attended my first writer's conference this weekend--MWC in Baltimore! It left me feeling overwhelmed but energized. I really enjoyed interacting with other writers and participating in Marita Golden's workshop on the importance of narrative structure in developing a story. But the most important aspect of this experience was having the chance to pitch GAR! (I will post a video of "the pitch" sometime later this week.) The agents and editors I pitched to provided useful feedback regarding GAR!'s marketability and what I can do to improve the manuscript and query letter. The critiques were at once motivating and daunting. At the moment, I'm still processing all the information, good and bad.
Two points stick out because they were made clear by everyone I met with:
1) I have been pitching GAR! as a young adult, science fiction novel. But in its current form GAR! is not considered YA. Why? One of the two main characters is an adult! I was surprised by this narrow view of the genre. The remedy? Either rewrite the adult character as an adolescent or market the book as purely sci-fi.
2) Whatever the genre, I need to ditch my prologue (a short scene containing a pair of old men and a meteorite). One agent said, "Let's say we keep it YA. Teenagers don't care about old men." Another, by way of explanation, said, "This scene is cinematic, but you've written a book." Indeed. I don't necessarily agree with these points, but they were made so emphatically and by multiple people that I have to take them seriously. It is hard to let things go, but I'll cut the prologue for now and post it here (next post).
What I take away from this experience is that conferences can be a great way to contextualize my work. Isolation is important while I'm writing, but connecting with professionals is important for understanding how my work fits into the publishing landscape.
I look forward to the work ahead!