NATALIE WHIPPLE HAS AN AGENT!
Many of you already read her blog, but for those who don't, Natalie is a stellar writer (her entries have made me both laugh and cry), her novel has one of the most awesome titles ever (Relax, I'm a Ninja), and she's just an all-around solidly NICE PERSON.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how highly I think of people who are nice. To everyone. And not just because they have to be, but because that's just how they are.
And . . . not only did Natalie get an agent, but she got her DREAM AGENT, Nathan Bransford. Yes. The Nathan Bransford of the insanely popular blog. That very one!
If you haven't congratulated her yet, I encourage you to do so. Getting an agent is one of the most exciting things that ever happens to a writer. It's the first real sense of validation and accomplishment — Someone LIKES me. Someone thinks I can make a career out of this! — and it's a huge cause for celebration.
Natalie loves Miyazaki. Here's Kiki, mojo intact.
I still have a few questions left, but I'm answering only one today, because Things Are Busy en la casa de Perkins.
The fabulous Myrna asks:
Have you ever attended a writer's conference? If so, did it make a difference?
I touched on this topic a bit here, but I shall elaborate now.
I've attended exactly one writer's conference. I'm not the model spokeswoman for them, obviously, but yes. It made a difference. That conference changed my life.
I didn't think I was ready for one — I hadn't finished my manuscript, I wouldn't know anyone there, I didn't know what to expect — but a good friend encouraged me to go. She said I was exactly the type of person who should be attending conferences.
And she was right.
I chose my conference carefully. Since I write for teens, SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) was the natural choice, but there are TONS of great conferences for all types of writers — mystery, romance, science fiction and fantasy, etc. It's important that you chose the right organization first.
After you've found . . . Your People . . . you'll probably have several choices of conferences to attend. You can attend one of the giant national ones (held once or twice a year) or one of the smaller regional ones (each region usually has one big yearly conference plus several small gatherings).
Budget will probably play a role in what you choose to attend.
I was lucky enough to be able to afford a plane ticket, so my next decision was, "Which national conference should I go to?" With SCBWI, I had two choices: the summer conference in Los Angeles or the winter conference in New York City.
I chose neither.
I made a slightly peculiar decision and went to a regional conference not in my region. But with good reason! I only had the cash for one trip, which meant it had to accomplish several things at once: I wanted to (casually-but-professionally) introduce myself to my dream agent, I wanted to meet a bunch of cool published writers, and I wanted to travel someplace interesting.
(I should have looked at the list of offered workshops, but frankly, I didn't care. You probably will, so read the schedule of events carefully! Luckily, mine turned out to be great. Phew! And if you have no idea what agents/editors/publishing houses/etc you're interested in, conferences are one of the best places to learn.)
Anyway, my criteria led me to Western Washington. The conference was two days, and it was INCREDIBLE. It's difficult to describe the feeling you get when you suddenly realize you're surrounded by Your People. Where everyone knows who Jon Scieszka is and worships at the altar of Arthur Levine. THIS is what you'll love about attending a conference.
THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE.
I can be rather shy, but it was easy to make friends — everyone there has something in common, after all — and the workshops were helpful. I was surprised by how easy it was to talk to the published authors and illustrators (how normal they were) and how down-to-Earth the people from the publishing houses were (including, yes, Arthur Levine). I'd always imagined these Big Shot New Yorkers as scary and intimidating, but no one I met fit that description.
Basically, the conference made my dream of getting published seem a lot less scary and a lot more attainable.
It gave me hope.
Of course . . . I also did talk to my dream agent, who later became my real agent. I met super-couple Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo, who are now two of my favorite people on the planet, and I met my west coast doppelganger Mindi Scott.
So yeah. Conferences?
ABSOLUTELY worth it!*
One last thing. Today I was looking through a list of this blog's followers, and I ran across this site: Hey! Teenager of the Year
I think we can all agree that's pretty much the best blog name ever.
(From this Steph to the other, thanks for following me!)
*Conferences are also way fun. Just so you know.