Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Making Contacts in the Publishing World

This past weekend, the Writers’ League of Texas held their annual Agents & Editors Conference. Although I’m sure the conference was a huge success, I can’t tell you that from first-hand experience since I didn’t attend. I did a little volunteer work for them, in that I drove agents, editors and authors to and from the airport on Friday and Sunday, though.

I had two different kinds of experiences. Twice I drove a car-full and once I carried just one person. It was always interesting. When it was just an editor and myself, we talked the whole way. When my car was full, mostly my riders talked, with me occasionally chiming in. I got to hear what they were reading, what they thought of different authors, and a little about their lives.

I didn’t pitch anything to them. But if I ever did pitch to an agent that I drove or ask an author for a blurb, I would remind them that I was their driver.

Which makes me wonder why other authors pass up opportunities like this. It could be because it costs you – you pay in time, gas, parking – and you can’t flake out and not show up. But it could pay off in other ways, like an intro to an agent or author or editor.

Yet, I know from my own experience when I was the Executive Director of the Writers’ League, it’s not always easy to find reliable drivers for the conference. And I know from being a chair for the Texas Book Festival, that it’s not always easy for that Chair to get author escorts.

And that’s sort of surprising since it’s a wonderful opportunity for writers.


  1. I've often wondered about this myself, why not? You're right, it's a great way to make contacts and learn a lot about editors, agents, etc.

    Perhaps because people have jobs and no time for anything except the conference?

  2. You may be right about the no time, but for WLT, the driving of agents, etc., takes place on Friday or Sunday. If you work, you could specify that you can drive only on Sunday (and since it's after the conference that day, you could still attend).

    For the Texas Book Festival, the escorts work primarily the days of the festival, which would mostly be Saturday and Sunday. There may be other events on other days that would be involved or orientation meetings prior to the festival, though.

    A volunteer would need to check with the particular association running the event in their area.

    I've driven for WLT several years and it's always interesting.


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