Thursday, May 10, 2012
There Seems to be a Pecking Order
All of us had to start somewhere. Everybody debuted at some time or another, but you wouldn't know it at a conference. Watch the dipping and dodging, the study and measuring. If I were Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse, able to read minds, I'd probably be amazed, embarrassed, and charmed, all at once. When you have hundreds of people interested in writing, collected in one locale, the social strata fall in line.
The self-published often feel indignant at the traditionally published. The traditionally published try not to notice. Watch the dynamics in a room where both are selling their wares. Agents often stick together. Editors as well. Sometimes with each other. Writers in the same writing groups hang tight. The small publishers pal with other small publishers.
Writers are afraid to speak to agents except during pitch sessions, and agents seem to avoid being cornered. I watched self-published look for reasons to be defensive in sessions, as if daring someone to doubt they could make a living as an indie.Traditionally published were almost afraid to say they were.
I don't understand why people don't split up, open up, and learn from each other.
When I go to conferences, I love being cornered and questioned. I want to meet people. I want to greet FundsforWriters readers who happen to attend. I crave to hear from someone who loved my book. I want to hear how others have done well, in hopes of learning from them. I'd love to participate in a big round table of assorted industry types, eating lunch, sharing situations, even arguing pros and cons of a current debatable topic like the DOJ lawsuit against Apple and several of the Big Six. Sure, someone won't understand, but they just might once you explain it to them. Everyone could learn from everyone else.
If you are a new writer, dare to approach the published, the agents, and the editors and ask questions. Don't feel badly if they are too busy. Try another one. You've paid a fee to be in the same rooms with these people.
If you are a seasoned individual at any aspect of the profession, be available. Hang in the lobby, the lounge, the back of the room at the end of a presentation. Be real. Be approachable. Leave your high horse elsewhere.
Conferences can be great places to meet friends, but they can also be fantastic places to make new ones and learn. It shouldn't matter whether you are from NY City or Muscogee, AL. After all, why go to a conference to begin with if not to broaden horizons?