Tuesday, July 30, 2013

PNWA Writers Conference

On Thursday, I arrived at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in SeaTac, Washington.  Believe it or not, the city was named after the airport, not the other way around.  The valet parking (which I’m too cheap to use) was very creative.  Notice the SUV is parked on the sidewalk. 

License plate cropped off on purpose 

The real takeaway from that afternoon’s sessions is that Amazon.com is publishing e-versions of short stories.  Their program is called Kindle Singles, and they accept stories 5,000 to 30,000 words long.  So if you’re interested, go to amazon.com/kindlesingles and submit. 

The conference had a good variety of people.  At one lunch, I sat at the table of a very straightforward-looking young man who was from Fort Lewis and who had served in Afghanistan.  To my surprise, instead of writing about his time there, he writes young adult and urban fantasy.  Also at the table was a young woman from a small town in Idaho.  She said she successfully pitched to several agents. 

Which leads me to the main events.  Most of us came to the conference to pitch to agents and editors.  The lines for pitching looked like this: 

We would each get four minutes to pitch to an agent or editor.  That’s right, only four minutes.  As I sat among a group waiting for the doors to the first pitch session to open, I encouraged a nervous young woman named Halie Fewkes, who had just graduated from college.  The actual pitch to summarize a novel should last just one minute, and the rest of the time is answering the professional’s questions.  She was already aware of the ideal length of a pitch, and she liked knowing she should relax more about it. 

At the end of each four minute session, a bell would ring.  That’s right, a BELL.  It was like being back in school.  The first agent I wanted to pitch to took longer than four minutes talking to the person before me, but that was all right.  I pitched to three agents, and each time it took less than four minutes.  That’s all it takes, if you know what you’re doing. 

So two of them asked me to send in sample pages.  The other one said the genre of my Tica Manus new adult science fiction story was not right for her, but it could be for another person at her agency.  She invited me to send sample pages to that agent with her recommendation. 

Successful in those Friday pitches, many of us relaxed and enjoyed the Saturday banquet.  Two friendly aspiring writers at my table were Rosalie and Ina. 

They also announced the winners of the literary contest for the conference.  Participants sent in their entries ahead of time.  Hundreds of entries poured in for the various categories.  The winner of the Young Adult category was none other than Halie Fewkes! 



msmariah said...

The e-book thing is good to know. I think that's the best option in publishing right now. Amazon has a huge market. I'd actually like to find a good editor beforehand though.

Mark Murata said...

Yes, always have people who know what they're doing look at the story before submitting it. Too many glaring errors can slip by otherwise.

Emily R. King said...

I need to go to this! I live only an hour and half away. Maybe next year.

Glad you had fun, Mark!

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome! I really want to spend some time in Seattle. I'd have been sweating bullets in that line. I hate that kind of pressure, no matter how polished my pitch may be.
But sounds like you did great! Congrats on your requests and GOOD LUCK!!!

Morgan said...

Ohhhh... what a great conference! Love the recap, Mark. I just got back from one myself. They're so much fun! Great work with the requests!


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