Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Crimes, Creatures, and Creativity Conference—9/13/2013—Cockeysville Maryland


I’ve attended writer’s conferences before. Maryland Writer’s Association, Bay to Ocean Writer’s Conference ... a couple others whose names escape me at the moment. I found them enjoyable, even if I did feel like a fish out of water.
I had been writing for maybe a year-and-a-half, had finished what I call today my practice novel (it wasn’t very good), and began my quest for publication. I heard that conferences were the way to go to get a feel for the industry. I could meet publishers and editors, attend Q&As with authors manning a variety of panels and roundtables, and the pièce de résistance, if you will, schedule a sit-down with an agent; a fifteen-minute, one-on-one shot to deliver your pitch to one of publishing’s gatekeepers. But that kind of undivided attention costs extra. And it should. Time is money, as they say, and your fifty-or-so-bucks buys you that time.
But, I decided I wouldn’t spend the money. “Fifty bucks buys a lot of U.S. stamps,” I said to myself. “I can reach a lot of agents for fifty bucks. Why should I spend it on just one?”
Looking back at the experience now, I realize that I was the person folks refer to as the guy who just fell off the proverbial turnip truck. Soliciting an agent takes months and months of customized query crafting, synopsis sculpting (at different page lengths), cover-letter cobbling, label printing, stamp sticking, and envelope licking—all to be able to finally sit back and collect the rejections. Additionally, some agents won’t accept queries if they didn’t meet you at a conference somewhere, so in light of that, fifty bucks seemed like a bargain.
So I spent the dough; talked to an agent from one of the BIG New York agencies, delivered a flawless pitch, and sat back to listen to what he had to say. The feedback was immediate. I had more work to do.
Was I disappointed? Of course. Did I learn something? Yup! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. And I did. Why? Because what I didn’t have to do, was wait months on end for responses that contained zero advice, and that’s if they responded at all.
And what does this have to do with the C3 Conference you ask? Well there will be agents, editors, publishers, and authors like most writers’ conferences, but the C3 isn’t just a writer’s conference. It’s a fan conference, and speaking as a newly minted author whose book will be released in August, I’m just dying to meet (and make) some fans. Just a couple will do, and family doesn’t count. Plus I am anxious to meet Jeffery Deaver, Trice Hickman, and John Gilstrap ... just to name a few; accomplished authors who I hope will bestow upon me the benefit of their invaluable experience while allowing me a glimpse at the big-time—and I think that’s pretty cool.
If you are a writer, and want to publish (and what writer doesn’t?), I think you will find C3 a better fit than going the traditional route. The old established way is hard. Very hard! Even today’s most well known names were rejected uncounted times. Independent publishers like Intrigue and Acorn are coming into their own, and represent a new direction in the publishing industry. They are in the hunt for writers who are good, but have experienced rejection after rejection like me. They will give you a chance, simply because they are new, they are hungry, and they are looking for the next Stephen King or James Patterson or Isaac Asimov. The publishing industry is changing because technology has allowed it, and anyone who ever dreamed of seeing their novel on a bookstore’s New Releases shelf will benefit.
I think you will be very excited about what you find here. Take advantage of this conference while you can. There aren’t many like it, and you don’t want to be standing on the platform when the train leaves the station.  
As someone very special to me said when I was about to quit, “You’ve worked so hard and learned so much, why would you give up now?”
Good advice. I’m glad I took it.
Illustration used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com