I got tired of playing by someone else’s rules
There are certain things that you should just never do. One of them is pitching your novel to an editor while they’re in the bathroom. It should go without saying, but it has to be said, because editors like to tell the stories of manuscripts being passed to them under bathroom stall doors during conventions, and telling the audience, “Don’t do that.”
Then there are the unwritten rules when attending conventions where editors and agents are, like yes you can buy them a drink at the bar, chat with them, but don’t pitch to them, unless they ask, which they won’t, because they are there for their clients. Of course, use this friendly chit-chat in your query letter, saying how great it was to meet them, and hopefully it was a good conversation and they remember you and will actually read your query.
One of these conventions, the business convention for the Fantasy and Science Fiction publishing industry, is the World Fantasy Convention. It is held every year around the last weekend of October or first weekend of November. This is where publishers and agents go to meet their clients, where writers go to see friends from around the world, get on panels, maybe do a reading, and to get seen by and meet the afore mentioned editors and agents.
Many writers with manuscripts to pitch, attend World Fantasy in hopes of getting asked to pitch. It can happen, it has happened. It is all about being in the right place at the right time.
I’d been to a number of these conventions. One year I decided that I’d had enough of playing by someone else’s rules. Rules, after all, are meant to be bent, if not broken.
It was time to take a chance
Being an introvert and attending a convention like this, where I have to be sociable for four days, is exhausting at the best of times. It helped that I was there with my two best friends, and with a lot of my writing friends whom I hadn’t seen in at least a year, some of them longer.
Usually I would attend some of the panel discussions, maybe go to a reading. It is the expected thing to do. My friends and I decided that this year, we were going to make it bar-con instead. A convention spent at the hotel bar.
That’s where the action happens.
Especially at this World Fantasy. Everyone had to pass through the bar to get to the panels or to get back to their hotel rooms. A perfect location.
Bar-Con was great, but by Saturday evening, I still hadn’t gotten the results I was after.
Saturday evening parties
Saturday evening is party time at World Fantasy. There are parties every night, but Saturday is the big one. This is usually the night when publishers hold room parties. This is when all the socializing that hasn’t happened in the bar, happens.
The Tor party happens on Saturday night. Tor books, the biggest publisher in Science Fiction and Fantasy, one of the sponsors of the Convention, has a massive room party. Everyone wants in.
First they have an hour or two that is exclusively for their authors. But then they open the doors to the public, and every hopeful author goes in, hoping to get a chance to talk with an editor. Except most of the Tor editors are no longer at the party. Neither are there aurhors. So it turns into just another crowded party, with free alcohol and munchies.
My friends and I went to the Tor party. It was crowded and loud and pointless. We moved on to other parties. We ended up at the party of a small publisher, people we knew, and had a great time with some other friends.
At about 2:00 am, we were going to head up to our rooms when one of my friends said, “Want to check out the Tor party, just once more?”
We were all exhausted, normally I would have said no, why bother, what’s the point. This time, I was out to bend the rules, even my own
The Tor Party
So we walked in. The room was almost empty at this point. We stood in the middle of the room, looking around, thinking, “Great, we’re here, this is dead.”
Some guy comes up to us and says, “You look like you could use a drink, follow me.” We did. Into the room’s bathroom.
The bathtub was filled with ice and that’s where the cold drinks were kept.
As he’s fishing drinks out of the tub for us, we ask him what he does, and he tells us he’s an editor at Tor.
We all froze.
Of course he was an editor! They don’t bring their office assistants to these things! Who else would he be!?
He said, “You must be authors. Pitch to me. Tell me what you’ve got.”
So we did, and he requested we send him our manuscripts. And while nothing came of it, I learned something about myself.
Playing by my rules, not someone else’s
Whenever I am asked to think about at time when I was at my best, when things were going my way, when I felt on top of the world, I think about that weekend at World Fantasy. The question that follows is “Who was I, what characteristics did I embody that weekend?” And the answer is that I was brave and daring. I dared to believe I could bend the rules, and I was brave enough to follow through and make things happen.
It has become a major part of what I teach in my course, The Daring Writer.
Are you tired of playing by someone else’s rules? Are you ready to bend the rules? Take your chance?
In The Daring Writer, we walk through goal setting so you have that sense of accomplishment after each writing session, we silence those self-doubts so that you can successfully live in your comfort zone of self-expression, and we work through how to grow within and expand your comfort zone.
I believe that all of us have a right to write. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on our mental health, emotional health, and our financial health, so for a limited time I am offering The Daring Writer for a very special price of $47, with an extra special bonus available until December 10, 2020.