I just got back from my very first RWA, and I have to say it was a blast! First of all, traveling with two of my writer peeps, Tammy and Pam, was an adventure in fun all in itself, ‘cause they are so totally cool. And then we arrived at the Marriott in DC! The buzz of excitement, the cacophony of 1850 feminine voices all talking at once, the estrogen-laden air . . . Wow. It was wonderful to be in a place where so many people shared a passion for writing. And I met so many friendly, supportive people, and made two new friends from Panama City and had lunch with Anna Campbell who is a stone hoot and . . .
And, well, you get the picture. I had a really good first RWA conference.
To top it all off, I got to pitch to a number of agents and editors.
I didn’t have an appointment, and so I went down to the basement on Friday and Saturday to see if I could pick up an agent or editor appointment from a no-show. I haven’t been in a room full of so many nervous people since I took the State bar examination after law school. For those of you who haven’t had the joy of taking a bar exam, think ice-water enema. On that long ago day, I walked into the Montgomery Civic Center along with several hundred other law school graduates prepared to take the three-day exam that would determine whether we had just wasted the last three years of our lives or would be able to practice law. I saw some pretty unnerving things during those days. Guys beating their heads against the wall, women throwing up in the bathroom, a girl curled up in one corner in a fetal position. Crying. Sobbing. Lots of praying. One girl got up the first day of the written exam and walked out. That was the worst of all. She was at the top of our class. I was not. If she couldn’t take the pressure, what hope did I have? I found out later she left because she had the flu, but I didn’t know that at the time. Gotta tell you it seriously harshed my mellow.
The atmosphere at the pitch session kind of reminded me of that. Some people walked the floor. One woman looked a little wall-eyed as she mumbled her pitch under her breath. At least I hope it was her pitch. The rest of us tried to memorize the list of agents and editors that handled our genres so we could jump on an appointment if one came available. I think we made the poor volunteers a little nervous. They were fresh meat and we were a bunch of ravening hyenas.
It was wild, and exhilarating in a twisted kind of way.
I am happy to say that I survived the experience unscathed, and even picked up several appointments. The agents and editors I talked to were all very professional and polite. I found the whole thing energizing and exciting. Happily, I did not faint or throw up on anybody (agents hate that), or wet my pants. All in all a positive experience.
What about you? Is pitching a pleasure or a bitch? What has been your experience pitching at conferences? The good, the bad or the ugly?