Be An “All In” Writer:
Why You Should Get Involved with Writing Conferences and Pitch Events
by Leslie Conner
If you are anything like me, you love spending your days secluded in your room with your laptop, writing and sipping on lattes, googling how long it takes a body to decompose. My search history is quite a colorful frolic down Macabre Lane.
But being a writer isn’t all about writing. It doesn’t matter if you have an agent or you’re self-published, one of the life skills a writer has to learn is how to PITCH. I’m sure most of you are thinking, yeah, I’ve got a query letter. I know the drill. But do you, really?
One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned (against my will, kicking and screaming) is that it is just as important to participate in the world of networking and marketing as it is to write your novel. And for that, you must put on pants and go outside. I know, putting on pants is the hard part.
Signing up for a writing conference or a pitch event is one of the best decisions you can make as a writer Click To Tweet
Signing up for a writing conference or a pitch event is one of the best decisions you can make as a writer because it not only takes you out of your comfort zone (the aforementioned secluded room with your laptop) but it puts you in a situation to really examine what you are writing.
You feel like you really know your book, your characters, the life-shattering importance of it all—that is, until you have to explain it to someone else. Can you pare down an 80,000-word mystery novel, with all of its intricate twists and turns, into one sentence? Many people can’t. And for this reason, you may not be experiencing the success or acquiring the readership that you dream about—even if you have the next best seller on your hands.
Writing conferences are a great opportunity to learn about and get help with all of the things you may not be proficient at already. Click To Tweet
Writing conferences are a great opportunity to learn about and get help with all of the things you may not be proficient at already. The ones who attend these wonderful get-togethers can attest to the benefits:
- Meeting other writers
- Talking about your work
- Attending informative panels, discussions, and Q&A sessions
- Getting feedback or critiques
- Pitching to agents
One of the most frustrating things I hear from very talented writers is this: That sounds great, but I’m not ready yet. And sure, if you are only 35,000 words into the rough draft of your first novel, that’s a valid argument. But most people who say this have at least five completed manuscripts saved on their desktop. They work tirelessly on them, hoping to reach a level of perfection only attained by unicorns and Ben & Jerry’s, but they never get the courage to show them to anyone else.
I will admit, as a young writer, I was plagued with imposter syndrome. I couldn’t possibly hang out with other writers and (gasp) agents without feeling like I didn’t belong or I wasn’t good enough. But I made myself go anyway, and what I discovered was that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writers I meet at conferences are open and friendly—probably the nicest people on the planet—and the advice and feedback that I receive is invaluable.
Which brings me to my next point—pitching events.
I recently participated in Pitch Madness (affectionately known as #PitMad). This event requires writers to come up with (and post on Twitter) a 280-character pitch for their novel. Interested agents can give them a “heart,” which means they are interested in hearing more. Sounds pretty easy, right? As embarrassing as it is to say, I hadn’t done anything like this before, and it was a bit intimidating.
During this nerve-wracking event, I learned how to write an effective pitch. And this isn’t a skill you only use to land an agent. This is a skill you will use for the rest of your writing career. You will have to pitch every novel you write to agents, publishers, and readers—anyone who plays a part in getting your work out to the world.
As I was going through this process, a quote from the now-famous Brené Brown, the guru of vulnerability, came to my mind:
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
If you want to be “all in” as a writer, you have to put yourself out there. Take any opportunity that you can to attend and participate in writing conferences and pitch events—even if you don’t get a tangible positive, like landing an agent or a book deal. The value of the experience and what you learn is immeasurable and will benefit you in every step of your writing career.
The tools I acquired and the advice I received from conferences and pitching events led me to a publisher. But that isn’t the only reason to go and participate in them. They say the journey is more important than the destination, and the people you meet along the way will make the trip worthwhile.
Check out a list of the upcoming mystery writer conferences for 2021:
Check out the list of Twitter pitch events for 2021:
Leslie Conner is a writer of murder mysteries and “all things macabre.” She has had short stories published in literary journals and anthologies, and you can find her flash fiction story “Murder 101” in The Bookends Review. Her two novels, Devil’s Charm and The Darkness Within, were published through Wordcrafts Press. Her third novel, The Fairytale Killer, will be released in 2022. Visit her at www.leslieconner.com.