Writer’s Digest West Conference- First Impressions

Yatlauh: the best

In China, from the Tang to the Ching dynasty, nine ranks of officials existed.  The highest and first level was known as yatlauh

I attended the Writer’s Digest West Conference this past Saturday.  It was yatlauh, fulfilling and exceeding all my expectations.   Let me break down my experience into three parts:

1) Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet:
  As a keynote speaker, he discussed being true to yourself and pursuing a story that resonates with you.  I also met with him face-to-face.  Despite being a New York Times bestselling author, he proved to be very accessible.  He was genuinely interested in my own writing journey, provided me with advice, and offered amazing encouragement.

2) Colleagues:
  I loved mingling with an array of peers, and everyone was supportive and non-competitive.  To name merely a few, I spoke with a Frenchman exposing the facts behind the war on drugs, a sweet Texan writing a YA apocalyptic novel, and an ex-Fresno reporter pitching a biography about a famous person.
  Out of everybody, I really felt privileged to meet Siel Ju.  She’s a professor at Santa Monica College and Otis College of Art and Design.  Siel holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.  She writes poetry and short stories, and you can check out a list of her previous publications at www.sielju.com.

3) The Pitch Slam:
  The line to meet and persuade agents snaked around corners and filled up corridors.  In fact, the previous session ran so late that our time for entry got pushed back.  When we finally entered the room, I noticed that the queues to the children’s literature agents were a lot shorter (if only I had a manuscript for a younger audience).
  Here’s what happened with my pitch:
   Agent A- “Interesting” but she’s being “very selective” about who she takes on; a pass
   Agent B- She likes looking at “different cultures”; a yes, send in a synopsis and a partial
   Agent C- She enjoys learning about historical events and ethnic viewpoints as long as it also   
                  attracts a mainstream audience; a yes, send in a partial   

I’m so glad I attended this conference!  I’ll review my session materials and highlight some writing craft tips to post up next week. 

Has anybody else attended a writer’s conference?  What was your experience like?  You can also share about any other large professional gathering or pitching/marketing tales.     

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  1. Sounds like a valuable experience, especially the request for 2 partials.
    I’ve attended Women’s Literary Fest in Santa Barbara, CA three times and always found it to be beneficial, interesting, and worth the time.
    Alas, they do not have pitch slams.

  2. Jennifer,
    That is GREAT! I am glad that you had a good experience. So encouraging to the rest of us.

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