Monday, May 4, 2009

Conference Faux Pas

Once upon a time, I was a newbie.

I went to my first conference in 2007, armed with an unfinished manuscript and a bad case of nerves. I'd done a lot of research, knew that newbies shouldn't chase agents into the bathroom or badger editors.

I still messed up.

The kind agent who met with me gave me tons of valuable advice about my manuscript but didn't request to see more. That fact went over my giddy head. The last night of the conference I saw him in the lobby and said in a perky, nauseating voice, "I'll be sending that to you right away!"

He just smiled and waved, ever kind. I sent it to him, the word requested on the envelope, and received a form rejection.

The tone of my voice when I talked to him in the lobby still haunts me. I'm so afraid I'll see him at another conference and he'll remember me as the annoying pregnant girl who sent him a partial he never asked for. Eek.

Are you planning on going to a conference this year? Have you ever committed a faux pas at a conference? What is your greatest fear about conferences?

44 comments:

Travis Erwin said...

For the first time in about 8 yeas I won't make a conference this year, but I wish I could.

Kristen Painter said...

I try to attend at least 2 conferences a year. This year was Romantic Times, and then in July, RWA Nationals. I don't have any fears about conference really. I mostly go to network and I'm pretty good at that.

Marybeth said...

I'd probably do something equally, if not massively more embarrassing. Nevertheless, I find myself LONGING to go to a conference...next year...OR maybe later this year????

Jessica said...

Hi Travis,
Wow, you've gone eight years? That's so awesome. I'm jealous. *grin*
You never know...the year is not over and something surprising could happen. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Kristen,
I'm beginning to think you're not afraid of anything! You eat weird stuff, do cool things... LOL!
I agree that you're good at networking. You were a fun person to meet.

Jessica said...

Marybeth,
I hope you get to go. The one time was amazing for me and I SO want to go again!
Here's hoping you get to go to one!

Jody Hedlund said...

Awesome story, Jessica!!! I haven't gone to a conference yet, but I can picture myself doing the exact same thing!! Likely I'd trip and fall flat on my face in front of said agent on the lobby floor. Then I'd be truly memorable! I hope that I can meet up with you at ACFW and then we can try to keep each other from being blathering idiots!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, that's an amazing story to me. I'm far too shy to have done that. Instead I've wasted every opportunity to this point. I'm determined not to mess up in that way this year, though. I'll at least pump them for some information and help, if possible.

I don't really know that I think your sending it off was a bad thing. We're told to send the to agents and editors we don't even know, so why not give it one more try with someone you met? It shows your confidence, which I think is a good thing.

Jaime said...

My first conference is in Sept. (ACFW) - thanks for telling me what NOT to do! :) LOL

Janna Qualman said...

I have had PLENTY of nauseating moments in life, though none at a conference (yet). I really hope to go to one soon!

Windsong said...

*hugs*

We all make mistakes. At least you learned from this one. :) I want to go to conferences, but probably won't be able to until the kidlets are a little older.

Lady Glamis said...

Wow, that is embarrassing! I've made some dumb mistakes like that, but not in publishing yet, thank goodness.

*HUGS*

It's all good. You will get published, and it won't matter in the long run. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I go the NJ conference every year. Almost went to the CT one, but didn't have the $$.
I'm with Kristen. I go to network and have a blast every year. :)

Marty said...

"He just smiled and waved, ever kind..."

I like that - if you meet this agent today he may even ask how your baby is doing.

Jessica said...

LOL Jody. At least if you trip you don't look like a pushy, overeager writer. :-)
I have a feeling you'll do fine! We're def. going to get together.

Jessica said...

Hi Eileen,
I'm usually shy but I decided, despite my quaking stomach, to be bold. I've regretted it ever since. LOL The partial isn't so bad. It's just the memory of perky me that makes me groan.
I think you'll do fine at a conference. Shy and sweet is better than bold and arrogant. :-)

Jessica said...

Yay! Jaime, I'm planning to go and I think Jody might too. We have to meet up sometime. :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessica: Hate to burst your bubble, but I doubt this guy will remember you. My guess is he meets with tons of people, and your faux pas did not stand out as the worst. Don't let the devil torment you with that little boo-boo. Beleve me, it IS little!

I went to a conference in November and did not even know I was supposed to do a 'pitch.' I just sat there yakking, asking the two editors i met with about their families, etc. Finally one asked me, "What can I do for you?" Miraculously, he bought a humor piece and has purchased several since then, but no thanks to me!

The other one was very kind, told me my proposal was very well done.
I am going to Write to Publish in one month. This time I will have my pitch ready. Please pray for me! I'm a mess!

Jessica said...

Oh Janna,
I'm glad I'm not alone. It's just that smell of our foot stuck in our mouths that stinks so bad. LOL I hope you get to go too. They're wonderful. :-)

Jessica said...

Hi Windsong,
Thanks for the hugs. I def. did learn from this and won't be so deaf next time. LOL

Jessica said...

Lady Glamis,
Thanks for more hugs! :-) It's horribly embarrassing to remember. Thanks for the reminder that when I'm pubbed it won't matter. I console myself that at least I didn't lose my temper or argue with anyone. LOL (not that I'm much of a fighter)

Jessica said...

Jennifer,
Networking is wonderful. Hubby asked me if I had to go to a conference to get published and I said, "No, but it's great for networking."
I agree that meeting other writers is one of the most beautiful, special parts of a conference.

Jessica said...

LOL Marty. He might, if he remembers me. I don't know if I should say hi or avoid him. LOL
Thank you for the nice thought, and for stopping by. :-)

Jessica said...

Oh Jen, Please, please burst my bubble!!!! I would be so happy if he didn't remember me. LOL

Congrats on selling your piece! I actually don't think you messed up at all. I think your interest in them was very sincere and that they knew that. No one wants to be used for their position. I'm sure you impressed them as a caring person they'd like to work with.
:-)

Thank you for your encouragement!

Jeannie Campbell said...

i haven't been to a conference...but will get my first opportunity at ACFW in sept. whoa. hope i dont' mess up, sure i will, though.

thanks for the original comment on my blog today! :)

Jessica said...

Jeannie, I'm hoping to go to that so maybe we'll meet. :-)
I don't think you'll mess up. You'll do great!

T. Anne said...

LOL I'm still traumatized from my BEA conf. stint last year. I love the line annoying pregnant girl...been there ;)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

OMG that sounds like the type of embarrassing thing that I would do! I would just chalk it up to "pregnancy brain" - it happens to the best of us!

And no, I've never been to a conference, someday I would like to though!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

The first time I met a famous editor, I was so tongue-tied and in awe, he commented, "I'm not God." I wanted to become invisible.

The word, "pitch," sends shivers up my spine. I still haven't mastered the art.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

LOL T. Anne,
So, you're saying I can blame this on being pregnant? I LOVE it!

Jessica said...

Oh yes, Kate, I think I will chalk it up to that. You all are geniuses!
I hope you get to go to one. Even a small regional one would be a blast. There's just something wonderful about talking with other writers, imo.

Jessica said...

No worries, Susan. I haven't even begun to think of my pitch yet.

An editor would be a nerve-wracking experience. Become invisible? Soudns comfy. :-)

haleigh said...

That's funny Jessica! But from some of the horror stories I've heard from agents/editors after conferences, yours won't even be a blip on the radar. And besides, you were probably absolutely adorable in your eagerness :)

I've never actually been to a conference. I'm going to the New Jersey RWA conference in October - it'll be my first one, and I'm hoping to have my current WIP ready to pitch by then.

Jessica said...

LOL Haleigh. Adorable doesn't describe me *snicker* But thank you for your nice words. :-)

I hope you have it ready too. Whatever happened with Shae? Did you query that?

Maybe you'll see Jennifer Shirk at the conference?

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL that story is too funny! But at least you did it!
I've been to a few conferences but not going this year. Maybe life will be great next year and I will get to go again. I love them!
Thank you for the prayers for Curt and I!

Nancy J. Parra said...

LOL- Even long time conference goers like me (I've been to 12 RWA national conferences) put our foot in our mouths... True story of my 10th conference- I was waiting at an elevator. Lovely person comes up to me. "Oh, you are an XYZ author?"
ME: "Yes, seven books."
Lovely person: "You should try WWW publisher. They pay better."
ME-"Oh, I've tried them." Wave of hand as if ridiculous suggestion. "They never like my work."
Silence as elevator opens and we get in.
Once inside I take a closer look at nice person's name tag...yep. You guessed it-she was a senior editor at WWW publishing house... Thank goodness my name tag was turned.

I slunk away as fast as the elevator door would let me. :)

sherrinda said...

Awwww, Jessica! I bet you were so cute, he didn't care! Pregnant and perky? Wow! You really crack me up. ;)
Great post...love everyone's stories!

jillianclemmons.com said...

I would just blame it on the pregnancy, lol! My friends use their "pregnancy brain" as an excuse for everything:)

Thanks for visiting my blog, Jessica!

xoxo

Jillian

Jessica said...

Hi Terri,
I do hope you get to again. You and hubby have been on my heart so I guess God wants me to pray lots for you. :-)
Things will get better.

Jessica said...

Oh my gosh Nancy! That's horrible. LOL I'm so glad your name tag was turned too!!!! Thank you so much for sharing that. It made me both laugh and cringe. LOL!

Jessica said...

Hi Sherrinda,
Well, I don't know if I was that cute. I think I might be too tall to fit in the "cute" category. LOL Glad I cracked you up! Heeeheee.

Jessica said...

Jillian,
Pregnancy brain seems like a perfectly valid, scientific excuse. LOL
Thanks for returning the visit! :-)

jessie said...

Thanks for sharing, especially since that would have probably been me in September if you didn't warn me:) And I loved the visual of pregnant you with a perky voice, and the oh-so-kind agent.

Jessica said...

Hi Jessie,
You're pregnant? Or do you just mean saying stuff. LOL ARe you going to ACFW? It seems like a whole bunch of us are.