The Knight Agency has a stellar reputation and an impressive client list and I’m excited to have agent Elaine Spencer, as our guest today. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions on Conferences and for taking Q&A from our readers.

First off, please tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been with The Knight Agency.

Hey everyone, Thanks for having me today! A little about myself . . . I just updated my bio and for once I’m surprisingly pleased with how it turned out (does anyone else ever feel like these things are impossible to write about yourself) –

Elaine Spencer joined The Knight Agency in 2005 after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Literature and Economics. Originally acting as assistant to agency president Deidre Knight, and as TKA’s submissions coordinator, Elaine went on to begin building her own dynamic client list in the summer of 2006. Elaine now represents a diverse list of adult and young adult authors, and handles all of the sub-rights’ licensing for the Knight Agency’s 150+ client list. Her strong background in both literature and economics make her well qualified to juggle both the artistic and the contractual sides of the business, and she prides herself on the one-on-one attention and personal relationships that she is able to develop with each of her clients.

As an avid reader Elaine is willing to try any author once. Regardless of genre, she is most interested in a unique voice that captivates readers in the opening pages. Elaine is most actively acquiring young adult and middle grade fiction, women’s fiction, romance (all subgenres), engaging commercial fiction and narrative non-fiction.

Elaine is not interested in children’s or picture books, horror, poetry, screenplays, short story collections, history, westerns, straight fantasy or science-fiction.

Elaine currently lives in Athens, Georgia. In her spare time she can most likely be found curled up poolside with a good book and her beloved Westie, Claude. To learn more about Elaine and the Knight Agency please visit our website at www.knightagency.net

Can you name a few of the authors you currently represent?

I am very lucky to work with an extremely talented group of ladies (and men). A few of my clients include Melissa Mayhue, Dakota Cassidy, Candace Havens, Lisa Chaplin, Linda Gerber and Kristen Painter. Also, a portion of my job is a sort of liaison where I find myself working with many of the agency’s authors on random projects. I can boast that I also get the pleasure of interacting daily with most of the Knight Agency’s other amazing authors such as Gena Showalter, Robin Owens, Jessica Andersen, Nalini Singh and Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The senders of the emails in my inbox looks like an Amazon search engine. My job could be as a walking billboard for Barnes and Noble.

Do you enjoy attending conferences? Which one is your favorite event?

I love attending conferences. They are an amazing networking opportunity and a great way to get a feel for what different writers are doing all over the country. Plus the organizers always work so hard to make sure they are a ton of fun. The best part, as a guest, I basically just have to show up and everything else is taken care of for me. I’m told to show up at x location at x time and everything else just flows like lava. And its always great to go into an event knowing that there are 50+ people that are excited to sit down and meet/talk to *you*.

A few seasons back I inadvertently signed myself up for a bit of a conference Kamikaze mission. Without fully comprehending the implications of saying yes to every event that came my way, I realized I had 15 events scheduled over the course of 5 months. YIKES! I made it through and over the course of the experience met with thousands (literally) of authors. In the end I had a whole new appreciation not only for my genres but for frequent fliers and good hotel beds. I took a bit of a break after that expedition, but now I still like to get out there in the trenches and so typically I try to make sure I have 1 or 2 events scheduled a season, once every 2 or 3 months. I think it’s an important part of my job and I’ve found that I tend to walk away from events feeling rejuvenated and more excited about my job in general.

My favorite event of the year is probably the RWA national convention. Not only is it typically located in a really wonderful city but obviously it’s like the Christmas of all conventions. Everyone is in one place, every author, every agent, every editor, and every publisher. You get more books than you can possibly know what to do with. Every night there are fabulous parties followed by fabulous opportunities to catch up and chat with your favorite people in the business.

What do you learn from participating and interacting with aspiring authors?

One of the main things I learn is what the daily routine really looks like for the folks on the other side of the table. When you attend these events you are in their hometowns and getting to really know their writing peers and friends. You are able to get much more of a sense of what really goes into the process and what it takes to get it done.

What do agents look for as they go through the conference? For example: How much of an agent's decision (mainly from pitches) depends on how they see a person behaving or representing themselves at these events?

Conferences are definitely events where impressions can be made. For the most part I’m pleased to say that typically it’s the good kind of impression. I always hope that writers have the common sense to just carry themselves with a certain level of professionalism that’s all I really expect. I understand nerves and I understand the horror stories of agent interactions gone badly, so I don’t expect all meetings to run as easily as if we’ve been associates forever. Really I just want to walk away with a feeling of “that could work; we’re definitely compatible on a certain level”.

I look for authors that seem to be ready to take it to that next step. They have a finished manuscript. They know how to sell (i.e. pitch) that manuscript and make it sound like the type of project I have to have. They seem to have a competency of what my job is, and what comes next in the process. And most importantly that they seem eager and ready to do whatever is necessary to get to that next place in their career. This stuff is all pretty mindless actually; it’s not something that authors need to work for. It’s just something that happens and that they inadvertently put off when they really are ready to make that leap.

What was the craziest approach an author took to get your attention? What is the best experience you’ve had with an aspiring author who ran into you at an event?

I think that there are enough stories out there that most authors these days are pretty well behaved :) I haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet the real crazies out there (or maybe I have but I’ve just locked those hilarious moments into a dark far away place in my mind). Sometimes funny things happen that can seem a little “crazy” or “desperate” but 99% of the time the author is setting out with the best intentions and the delivery just doesn’t end up right, I’m not going to hold them accountable for that and hey, it keeps me on my toes, never knowing when my next possible “under the bathroom stall manuscript pass” might happen.

I have had a lot of “bests”; again, it’s hard to pick one over the rest. The most important thing to say here is that the little things that authors do to make us feel welcome and included and a real part of the event, those little things go a long way. A friendly smile, an invitation to join their table over drinks, those “welcoming” gestures take the load off of what can otherwise be an intimidating experience walking into a conference where everyone else already knows everyone. I always love it when someone knows a little something personal about me. Such as a client I represent, an author I love to read, or something about my personal life, like I’m an avid college football fan. The fact that someone would take the time to seek out this type of information on me really goes miles to attest to their interest in pursuing a further relationship with me.

Can you suggest some ways that would get your attention? Which would most likely turn you off?

The types of things that I was just talking about, those are the best ways to make a good lasting impression that will carry over when we’re reviewing your material. I love it when a group of authors asks me to join them for drinks or coffee. If you’re sitting with a group there isn’t the pressure that is associated with a one-on-one meeting. You can feel like you really are getting to attendees “just because” and not because you have something that they want. Meals are a great opportunity to mingle. If I’m sitting at you table be sure to introduce yourself. Make casual conversation leading up to the meal. During pitch sessions, when you walk in, take a second to say “how is your conference going” – I can guarantee it will make both you and I feel more relaxed going into the actual pitch portion.

Hooked on Romance is all about being easily entertained. If you were a nail polish, what would it be called and why?

Yesterday I got my nails done with a color called “Sand in My Suit”, while entertaining, I don’t think I really would want that connotation tied to my person so, back to the drawing board. I love glitter. I love sparkle. And I LOVE pink. So however I could marry those… much to my dismay my wit is failing me this morning: Passion for Pink, Gaga for Glitter, ummm; A future OPI brand employee I am not.

Have you ever done anything spontaneous and what did you learn about yourself?

I love being spontaneous. It keeps you on your toes. And it’s a bit of a natural high when you look back and think “Did I just do that” – And I can’t think of anything I’ve done spontaneously that I’ve lived to regret, so I guess the lesson is that I should be more spontaneous on a more regular basis. I can solidly attest that hands down the best spontaneous memories that are coming to my mind were the many random road trips during college.

I’ve noticed that some agents also are authors and are fabulous at it. Would you ever try your hand at writing?

I am not a writer. I do not have the discipline. I wish I had the seed but it’s just not me. I’m just much more conceptual in the overall way that I execute things on paper. Plus, I have a tendency to be wordy (see above blog for example :) ) and get hung up on the most mundane unimportant elements of the craft. So, unless the worlds realign one night while I’m sleeping, I don’t ever see myself going “to the other side”.

Any parting words for our readers?

Keep at it. Whatever that is, whether it be reading, writing, etc – I wake up every day and think “today could be the best day yet” and I think that’s how we should each live every day. Never knowing when you’re going to come across that one person that is going to change everything, never knowing when you’re going to find that career match that will enrich all of your days to come, never knowing when you’re going to read that book that makes you remember why we all fell in love with reading to begin with. . .


Let’s start taking Q&A from our readers on CONFERENCES. Please keep it to this topic. All comments from this post will get you automatically added to the contest. We’ll do a random drawing and winners will receive copies of books from authors represented by The Knight Agency.

Book giveaways. Winners will receive a combo of titles from these amazing authors:

Gena Showalter
Nalini Singh
Melissa Mayhue
Linda Gerber
Rhyannon Byrd
Diana Peterfreund
Kate Pearce
Dave Cristofano
Deidre Knight
Katherine Garbera
Jennifer St. Giles
Lauren Baratz Logsted
Lauraine Snelling

Comments (46)

On May 7, 2009 at 10:01 AM , Jax Cassidy said...

Again, thanks so much for being our guest blogger. I've had the pleasure of meeting you at several events and I must admit, I was intimidated the first time. There's always this fear you'll say something totally idiotic in front of an agent or editor. But I'm glad I overcame that fear because you are such a fun, intelligent, and super cool woman!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 10:27 AM , Teresa D'Amario said...

Loved the interview. Thanks so much for being open and honest. Maybe I'll meet you at Nationals. It will be my first, so worry about that "First impression" with the agents. LOL.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM , booklover1335 said...

Hi Elaine,
It is so great to here about the whole process, not just the end result.
Are there any authors that you decided not to take on as a client, then later wish you would have represented? (like all those who rejected JK Rowling)

 
On May 7, 2009 at 10:49 AM , Natasha said...

I love the idea of the conference. I love the fact that authors and readers can interact. I would love to go on one..BUT I don't know if I will ever be able to. I won't say never, but.....lol
Thanks for the great interview!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:01 AM , Elaine said...

booklover1335 -

Totally! I think this happens to all of us. There can be a huge amount of fear in us when looking at a project, the "what happens if I pass on this" - and you know what it happens. Either you don't see the magic in it, or its just bad timing for you or you do see it but regardless of how much its YOUR dream project, you might not be their dream agent. Always sad.

I've been lucky that anyone who I've been foolish enough to pass on who has then gone on to be successful has still been very gracious when we've crossed paths.

These things are bound to happen to everyone. Its the age old lesson, you can't always have everything you want!

Basically we just have to trust in the knowledge that with each one that gets away, there is another waiting in the wings. Sounds corny, but very true.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:26 AM , Candace said...

Wow. I had no idea you were so smart. ;-) Love ya! Terrific interview.

Candace Havens
www.candacehavens.com

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:38 AM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Hi, Elaine! You know, reading an interview with you takes on a whole new feel after having met you several times.

Guys, it's true what Elaine says about sitting with her at a meal or asking her to have drinks with you. I've done both at 2 different conferences. At the meal we discovered that she and I were boith involved int eh 3 Day Breast Cancer wal - though she was more active as a walker. I just gave money. Then there was the little tidbit about vampires that I learned at the table over drinks, but the details of that are locked in that vault. LOL It is absolutely amazing what you will learn about an agent or editor when you take a more personal approach.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:49 AM , Anonymous said...

thanks for the interview
how many men do attend the conferences

kh

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:55 AM , Ali said...

I really loved reading this interview :) A lot of great information.
You mentioned that you understood nerves... but, have you ever met with an author who just very shy, and if so, how did that work?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 11:56 AM , Lilah Rune said...

Hi Elaine, Thank you so much for your positive comments and insight. I loved the first and only RWA conference I went to last year. Hopefully I will have the funds to attend this year. Any suggestions if we are unable to land appointments with agents? As for college football, this house supports University of Colorado (my husband's from there). Who is your team?


Cheers,

Lilah Rune

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:08 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Ali,

Does missing the chair when you tried to sit down count as shy or is that just super nervous? As for how that went, the agent dove across the table, God bless her as if she could catch me. LOL Luckily I didn't go all the way to teh floor and she was nice enough to request the ms.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:09 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Naughty Nikki Duncan - Thanks for making me feel so welcome here at "your place" -

Nikki is a PERFECT example of how to act when attending conferences. I have no initimate tie to Nikki other than correspondance we've had at conferences and other email exchanges - she's not my client and I cross paths with her on a rare occassion. But I can tell you that I know exactly who she is and if I see her name pop into my inbox I'm excited to hear what she has to say. Just by being polite, friendly, and offering a smile or bit of conversation she's left a big lasting impression with me that would make me inclined to do anything I could to help her out should the opportunity present itself. Its those types of interactions you hope to have at events!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:11 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

kh - How many men attend conferences? It depends on the type of event you are looking into signing up for. If its an RWA event admittedly, there aren't many, always a handful but they are definitely the minority.

If you are just looking at a general local writers group or chapter, in those cases, the split evens out MUCH more towards 50/50 - this craft really doesn't have a lot of boundaries or discriminations, old, young, male, female, black, white, we're all in it together.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:17 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Ali - OF COURSE I come across authors who are shy. I think that characteristic represents a majority. Writing is so solitary so much of the time. Just you and your computer. Its not uncommon at all to come across folks that WANT to go out and network and interact but its just hard for them.

I try to be super sympathetic to this type of authors. I can read when someone is trying their hardest but its still just *hard* to communicate. I do everything in my power to make it as easy of an exchange as possible. If someones sitting at my table that isn't talking much I'll try to engage them in questions so all they have to do is talk back!

Its all a dance - for me, its my job to get out there and meet people and make friends. Its not going to benefit anyone if I'm a hermit and so I try to make it as easy as possible for folks to say hey to me by just coming off as approachable and easy going.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Lilah Rune - If you can't land an appt it does make it tougher, ecspecially if you're talking about a national convention where there are already so many people and so many pre-existing obligations.

IMHO if you are looking to really get good one-on-one face time, look to a locale event. If you've got your heart set on a big event use your resources. If you are attending a meet and greet party, thats a good time to approach an agent with a polite hello, we're expecting it. Or if you know one of our clients/camrades ask them to make a polite introduction. Thats going to be your best bet.

And use you general "people skills" - I'm always ok with people approaching me but if I've got to go, I've got to go - I *hope* people are receptive when I'm dropping the "I can't stay and chat" clues - but again, we understand the nerves, so don't take it personally if we seem to duck out quickly. I can promise in 99% of situations its not you, its just that we've got something else on our mind or somewhere else we've got to be!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Lilah - oh, and GO DAWGS! I'm a Georgia girl through and through.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:29 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Aww shucks. lol That's a very sweet thing to say, Elaine. I've come to accept that you guys remember us and how we behave, but it's still a surprise to me when you really do. lol, guess I haven't gotten jaded yet.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:30 PM , Ali said...

Nikki, omg, really?? That would have felt like an out of body experience for me, lol

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:35 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Yes, Ali really. And I had you convinced that I was confident didn't I? The agent was Nephele Tempest, who is with Elaine's agency. She was so sweet. I had just taken her workshop prior to my appointment where she talked about getting an agent's attention. You know, she didn't say anything about sitting on the floor to make yourself stand out? LOL

 
On May 7, 2009 at 12:51 PM , Maureen McGowan said...

What a great interview, Elaine (and Jax).

 
On May 7, 2009 at 1:00 PM , Yvette Davis said...

Elaine,

Are conferences the best place to approach agents?

I live on the west coast and feel pretty isolated over here! But is going to a conference preferable in some ways to the agent's mind?

Thanks!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 1:10 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Elaine, for out visitors who have never been to a conference, can you talk briefly about what kind of things you might see at conference that would turn you off of an author?

Also, we talk about the author being shy and nervous, but I've heard agents and editors say that they are too. Can you give us a few tips that you use (or used early in your career) to help pt yourself at ease?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 1:43 PM , Ella said...

What a wonderful interview. I "see" you on twitter from time to time. Don't tell anyone, but your agency is my dream agency. Ssh. Our little secret.

Love the authors TKA reps.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 1:44 PM , MeganRebekah said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences Elaine. You're on my top agents list come query time!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 1:57 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Yvette - I think there are certainly other good ways besides conferences that are effective at approaching agents, they aren't the end all be all, but I think they are one of the easiest ways to get some one on one face time.

One thing about conference attendees is that for us agents its an automatic screening process. We are able to assume that if you are at the conference you are taking yourself and your writing seriously so that puts you one notch up. We're looking for the writer that is looking to make their writing a profession, and at conferences we tend to find authors who have done their homework, who are dedicated to their craft and are invested in doing whatever it takes to push their writing to the next level.

We understand that everyone's schedules are busy and crazy and taking a weekend out to devote to your writing can be difficult. By hitting a conference though you are showing your dedication and we respect that so we try to make it worth your time by making those one on one connections that can be more difficult just via online ventures and email.

I'm not sure if that helps or not . . .

 
On May 7, 2009 at 2:03 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Nikki - what would I see at a conference that would turn me off.

Hmmm. I don't want to be a Debbie-Downer or seem like a stick in the mud, I like to have as much fun as the next person. I do think its important to remember that there is a time and a place for everything. Many/Most attendees frequent the bar but make sure you aren't THAT person. During panels dont hesitate to ask questions, but don't try to dominate the time left open for Q&As.

As I mentioned, I love it when people approach me and make me feel included, but if I'm busy in a meeting or what appears to be private conversation with someone else, step back and wait for another more appropriate time to approach me.

Try not to monopolize any one conference attendees time, make sure you're allowing them to interact with everyone at the event.

What else don't I like to see. There is never a situation where its appropriate to talk bad about another writer or agent or editor. This is a very tight-nit community, you never know when so and so might pop up in your new circle. I believe in karma and I see nothing to be gained by talking smack about someone else. By making someone else look bad you aren't making yourself look good.

Don't lie to me. If your manuscript is 6 months from being finished don't promise you'll have it on my desk on Monday morning. If you know that you need some editorial help yet, don't be afraid to be honest, I'll respect that you are self-aware of your craft.

Those are some of the first no-nos that come to mind.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 2:09 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Nikki -
In regards to us being shy, Yes, totally. There are still events where I walk in and feel like everyone is looking at me. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are in the outside circle. Remember that you've got your critique partners and friends that you are with every week surrounding you, unless we have clients there in some instances we might be walking into an event blind.

I don't know how I got over that. Now days I know enough people that I typically know someone but there are still times where I find I'm the new kid at school. There are instances when people obviously are a little afraid/intimidated to talk to you and so you automatically feel like you've got food stuck in your teeth or a third eye. I try to just find the friendly face in the crowd. That or I try to sit with other guests as I can bet that they've probably been in a similiar situation at some point in time. Or I will gravitate to the really noisy table and just take a seat. If theres a lot of commotion I figure I can just blend in until I make my own spot. Its always worked for me. Also, the folks that are on the conference committee, I try to make a point to introduce myself to them earlier, they're always willing to take you under there wing if you're feeling a bit lost and dazed.

Ultimately just relax and people will come to you. I've found that as a whole the writing community is a very welcoming place. Writers are some of the friendliest folks I've ever met. We're blessed to be a in a business that is for the majority so helpful and kind towards its fellow peers.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 2:25 PM , Jane said...

Hi Elaine,
Thanks for the insight. How often do you have face to face meetings with your clients?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 2:38 PM , Elaine Spencer said...

Jane - It all depends. I have clients I haven't met face to face, although thats definitely the minority and not the majority. On average I would say I run into most of my clients at least once a year. Sometimes I'm lucky and we'll cross paths two or three times. And there there might be those instances when its a big time in someones career and for various meetings we might have a cluster of meetings surrounding some big event/release/promo etc.

But, again, to be fair, on average once or twice a year.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 2:47 PM , Nancy G said...

I have always wanted to go to one of the conferences, but finances don't allow long distance travel. Any thoughts on having some in the middle of the country (like say St. Louis, MO? I could take time off work and go then.
I really enjoyed the interview; it answered some questions rolling around in my head.

 
On May 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM , Jax Cassidy said...

Thanks for the insight into an agents prospective at conference. I'm glad you're touching on the professionalism aspect. I go to conferences to network, learn, and get to know agents and editors better. I've learned over the years that the best thing to do is just to treat these industry professionals the same way you treat a new person you meet: friendly and courteous.

In terms of conferences, there will be dozens and dozens of workshops available, so what do you suggest would be good ones for newbies to focus on in their first year in attendance? Panel workshops? Publisher spotlights? Craft?

What about signing up for agent/editor pitches the first year?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 4:39 PM , Kristen Painter said...

Just had to stop by and say HI to my fabulous agent!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 4:44 PM , Jax Cassidy said...

Kristen, you're such a brown-noser. LOL

Thanks for stopping by!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 5:22 PM , Amy S. said...

Great interview! I have never been to one of the conferences. At RT, what was your favorite event?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 6:37 PM , Diane M. Wylie said...

I always thought that an agent wouldn't want to join a group of authors for fear of being constantly pitched to, instead of being welcomed to just chat. Now I know better. Thanks for helping us to remember that a little kindness goes a long way. I hope I can put that into practice at the next conference I attend.

Just remembering that agents are regular people too is so much better than picturing them in their underwear to relieve the tension!

 
On May 7, 2009 at 6:59 PM , Margay said...

I'm curious to know how many authors you have signed on after meeting them/hearing their pitch at a conference.
Margay

 
On May 7, 2009 at 8:07 PM , Kiera McAllister said...

Thank you for such an informative interview. Would you say you find more authors through conferences than queries?

 
On May 7, 2009 at 10:42 PM , Lori T said...

Hi Elaine and Jax~

What a great interview. I have never had the opportunity to attend a conference. What do you find to be the most difficult thing about being a part of the conference setting?

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:09 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Hey ladies TGIF! I'm back to answer any lingering questions from yesterday

Nancy G - Conferneces in the middle of the country? There are tons!!! I have never thought of conferences as being location selective (and this is because I have travelled to some random spots for events myself!) - I bet you would be suprised if you did a local search for "writers groups" and "conferences" - while these events are going to maybe be a bit smaller than the larger national events I can tell you sometimes smaller is better. More time for one on one networking and they can definitely be less intimidating.

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:17 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Jax-
"In terms of conferences, there will be dozens and dozens of workshops available, so what do you suggest would be good ones for newbies to focus on in their first year in attendance? Panel workshops? Publisher spotlights? Craft?

What about signing up for agent/editor pitches the first year?"

I think the best plan is to be prepared in order to get the most out of your conf experience. I'm a bit OCD when it comes to organizing, so this might not work for everyone but go through the program ahead of time, RWA always makes theirs available online. Take two highlighters and highlight your #1 pick for a timeslot in one color and then your #2 pick in a different color. Then you can go back and make sure you have a good variety of different types of events. If its your first go you definitely are going to want to sample a little bit of everything. Also by having a #1/#2 choice you are leaving yourself some lee-way. If you run into someone in the hallway that you want to chat with your #1 desitnation may be far to complicated to still make. At most conferences presenters expect people to be coming and going during sessions so just quietly make a new plan and sneak in the back of a different session already going on.

Last piece of advice, don't beat yourself up if you miss a few things you had on the agenda. The most important thing is to have fun - in the end I'm sure you'll walk away feeling like you know so much more even if you missed one or two workshops you had had your mind set on ahead of time.

In regards to pitching at nationals. I think this answer is going to be based on the individual. Do you stay cool under fire? Are you used to speaking in public? If you aren't afraid of the pitch, then do it, what do you have to lose? Practice makes perfect and so I think the more times you pitch the more likely you are to find the perfect match.

Now, if just reading my answer on pitches makes your palms sweaty and you are a newbie. Skip it. There are far too many other first time opportunities that you are going to get to experience at the conference and there is no need to spend the whole week in fear of one ten minute session. I've seen too many authors miss out on otherwise fun experiences because they were so freaked out by the next days pitch session. If thats the case, skip it - most agents taking pitches are also accepting queries, judging contests, etc - there are other ways to get to them.

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:19 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Amy S -

I missed RT this year :(

And from what I heard, you miss a second, you miss a lot. I'll definitely be on the RT train next year. I heard its going to be in Columbus, and I'm from Ohio, so without a doubt, I'll be there -

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:20 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Diane -

By sitting with a group of authors we are running the risk of getting a random pitch, but hopefully the authors will be well enough behaved to realize there is a time and a place for everyone and spare it - And the chances are, during the course of natural conversation something will come up that will lead the agent in the direction of opening a door for you with a "what do you write" or something along those lines.

And I really don't like thinking that everyone in the room is imagining me in my panties. YIKES.

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:22 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Margay -

I would say that at least 25% of my list is as a result of having met in person - That or in many cases I had already received someones material but then after an introduction in person we were much more apt to pursue a relationship together.


Having a face and personality to tie to a project in many instances makes me more eager to make a match with a project that I might have been on the edge with.

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:24 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Kiera -

Where do I find more clients, conferences or queries . . . hmmm

I would say that my list is 25% conference, 25% query, 25% referral and 25% "other" contest, critique, long standing relationship etc.

This probably doesn't help since its not an overwhelmingly bigger piece of the puzzle, but I'll tell you, it does make a project much more visable to me if I've met the author in person.

 
On May 8, 2009 at 7:30 AM , Elaine Spencer said...

Lori - Last Question (woohoo! JK ya'll have been great!)

What is the most difficult of being a part of a conference setting.

I would say the break in the routine. Having to give up my weekend. Knowing that by signing up for a conference I'm going to be working from A Monday all the way straight through until 2 Fridays away. Its hard being away from friends and family since the events are mainly on the weekends, you're giving up the little bit of "you time" -

And something else that I didn't really talk about anywhere else that is hard about being a part of the conference setting is that as an agent you always have to be "on" - People come up to you CONTSTANTLY, those you know, those you don't, you name it. When you walk through the room you see people point and whisper at you, and heck I have no idea what they're saying: it could be "there's that witch that rejected me" or "oh she's taller than I thought", that part definitely takes some getting used to though. And you are running non stop. You have meeting after meeting after panel after meeting after lunch after dinner after coffee after drinks after party its just nutty. And you have to give the client you are meeting with at 4pm the same energy that you gave the client you met at 7am. Thats can get a bit daunting.

But regardless of this, its still a blast, hence the reason I'm still very much on the conference circuit.

THanks for having me everyone! I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming conf!

 
On May 8, 2009 at 2:06 PM , aprilm said...

Excellent interview Jax!!!

Hello Elaine (April waves wildly at guest!!!)

Thank you for such an informative look-see into an agent's mind. I'm taking notes. Maybe one day we will meet.

April Morelock aka foxhawke