So, this past weekend I went to DFW Writer Con. It was my first time at this con, and my first time at this type of con, where there are a lot of agents and pitch sessions with the agents. There is a con of that nature in Austin every year, but it has always been sparse when it comes to agents who represent Fantasy. DFW Con had a wealth of such agents, so I felt it was time to take the chance. I figured it would be, at the very least, a learning experience, even if what I learned was, "Don't do that again."
I'm happy to say that wasn't what I learned, and the experience was well worth it.
First of all, it was somewhat refreshing to be at an event where everyone is a writer, but being a fantasy and sci-fi writer was an uncommon minority. I think sometimes I can get a bit tunnel-visioned-- pretty much all the professional writers I know are genre-writers, so it was cool to meet people who write radically different things than me. Especially non-fiction stuff that I wouldn't even THINK of. I witnessed one impromptu pitch of a non-fiction idea that caused the agent in question to almost squeal, "I need that book myself! Send it to me!" And it was a brilliant idea, but it was something that I would never think of. That kind of wide-net exposure was fun.
Plus when I said I write fantasy, I'd often get the excited, "That's what I read, but not what I write" response. That felt good.
(It does help that I've beaten out my old attitude of saying, "I write fantasy and sci-fi" with an almost shameful, half-apologetic tone. I wear my genre brand with pride now.)
I went to some good workshops on structure and character, which were very helpful. I also adored Kristen Lamb's discussions on using social media, blogging and platform building, and how important it is for authors today. I was pleased to find out I hadn't fallen into many of the common mistakes she noted. Admittedly, that was partly out of inaction. But you should all check her out.
One of the best panels was the "Query Gong Show", in which queries were (anonymously) read out loud, and the panel of agents would hit the gong whenever they would stop reading said query, and then talk about why they would. Really funny, and really educational. I couldn't do justice to summing up everything that happened at the Query Gong Show. Fortunately, Roni Loren has already done a fantastic job. Check it out.
All in all, a great weekend, and I heartily recommend it.