Writers Digest Conference 2017

I just got home from the 2017 Writers Digest Conference in New York, and what an experience! The presenters were fantastic, and I learned so much.  I went to WDC determined to learn more about the business of being an author, and I was not disappointed.  Of course, I also learned more about the craft of writing, and met some amazing authors and future authors.

I have been to many writers conferences over the last eight years, but this was my first WDC.  I’ve wanted to go to this conference for many years, primarily because of the location (I love New York) and their famous Pitch Slam.  I was not disappointed.

During the pitch slam, 150 attendees are released into a big room with about 60 agents at tables around the perimeter, and you pitch a project to as many of these agents as you can in one hour.  You have three minutes with each, and then they ring a bell and you move on to the next agent you want, usually waiting in line.  I did some research before, and narrowed my list to eighteen prospective agents who seem to like the kind of work that I write, some higher on the list than others.  I didn’t have any serious strategy going in, having never done this kind of thing before, and in the end I was only able to pitch Gray Paree to five agents during the hour–but four of them requested pages, and two were very enthusiastic about the story and said they were looking forward to it.  I can’t tell you how amazing that feels!

Other writers I talked to afterward pitched to anywhere from five to eight agents during the Pitch Slam, and most got requests from at least a couple.  I felt very good about getting requests from four, so in the coming days I will be working on that.

The conference was much bigger than Midwest Writers Workshop–about 1,000 attendees as opposed to about 400 at MWW–and as a result it felt a lot less intimate, not as easy to get to know other writers, a little easier to get lost in the crowd.  At MWW, you run into your friends all the time, and can chat about sessions, where they’re going next, what they’re doing for lunch, etc.; at WDC that happened a lot less–I would occasionally run into people I’d met, and have to make my way to them through the crowd to chat for a few minutes, but if it was sort of haphazard, and not easy to make plans, even with people I had gotten to know beforehand through the Facebook group page.  Even so, I’m pleased to have met a handful of people with whom I’ll keep in touch.

WDC and MWW are very different conferences, and there were things I liked better about each.  The content and the energy at WDC were amazing, and the Pitch Slam was well worth it–and who knows what future impact those agents may have on my career? I got four requests, y’all! The nurturing atmosphere of MWW, its location close to home, and lower cost mean it will continue to be my “home” conference that I attend every year, without fail.  I will most likely go back to WDC in the future, but probably after a few years.