The good news is: I can still be taught!
The SCWW conference is over and I am ready to get back to work! I knew the book was not perfect but I went to the conference anyway, knowing I would still learn a lot. I signed up for a critique, query and pitch. I was most afraid of the pitch. When people ask what my book is about, I tend to ramble...
(If I could get the idea across to you quickly, I'd write short stories, right?) Wrong.
While much of the information put out at conferences can be found on various websites or in countless books, it can sound different when you hear it. Thank God I took Chuck Sambuchino's class on Friday afternoon. When he said, "For those of you pitching at this conference..." I sat up and listened. He talked about summarizing your book in one sentence. (I couldn't do it then but I'm getting better.) He went on to say that the second paragraph in your query letter should be about 3-7 sentences. That paragraph should be your pitch when you sit down in front of an agent. I heard the lightbulb click.
I learned many other useful things in that hour and fifteen minutes. (There was more but I had to leave for a critique.) I took those suggestions and reworked, revised and rehearsed my pitch all over again. It worked. The agent requested 30 pages!
Of course, anyone can have an idea. That doesn't make me a writer. This same agent was not blown away by my first two pages in another seminar but now I have a second chance to impress. I have recognized that I was not just rambling about my book before--I was rambling in it, as well.
None of this is a guarantee that anything further will ever happen with this book but it is a step forward.
I was going to skip the conference this year, knowing the book wasn't completely right, yet. I was going to skip the pitch, out of pure and simple fear. I went and was inspired and challenged. If only I hadn't been too shy/embarrassed to offer to buy Chuck Sambuchino a drink at the bar, to thank him for the helpful advice! Maybe that will be my goal for the next conference...