Where Writing and The X Factor Coincide

Next weekend I’m attending my first writers conference. I’m excited about meeting other writers and learning more about the craft.

But I’m nervous, too.

This will also be my first time presenting my book to an agent. Seeing as I haven’t had a professional editor read through and doctor up my entire manuscript yet, I doubt my prospective agent will give my book proposal more than a mere glance. But it’s worth a try, right?

When I think about presenting my manuscript to an agent, I often think of American Idol or The X Factor. Except in this case, Simon Cowell is the cynical agent, Paula Abdul is the editor, and L.A. Reid is the publisher. I feel like one of the contestants nervously stepping onto the stage with the spotlights glaring into my eyes and the judges waiting impatiently for whatever I have to deliver. And I need all three “yes’s” to get through.

Like the contestants, I’m constantly worrying about how the judge- or in this case, the agent- will react. Either his eyes will widen in pleasant surprise, or a sorry grimace will spread across his features.

This is how it plays out in my wildest fantasies: I hand the agent my book proposal and wait silently as he reads the cover letter. Then he turns the page, making my heart leap with eager anticipation. (I’m pretty sure less than 80% of first novel cover letters don’t get read past the first paragraph. I’m just tossing around numbers here.)

He nods his head, lifts his eyebrows in interest, and begins reading the first few sample chapters. My breaths become quick and uneven as I wait for his reply. Finally, he looks at me and says, “I would like to see the rest of the manuscript.” He reads the ENTIRE novel that night, tells me how much he loved it, and agrees to sign a contract with me the next day.

I can dream, right?

I’ll probably end up being the writer’s version of Andy Silikovitz from The X Factor.  (See the video below!)

Either way, the conference is going to be packed with valuable information on how to hone my writing skills. And who knows? If the agent likes my story and my book sells out, maybe I’ll be on an episode of MTV Cribs. (Again, see the video below…)



2 thoughts on “Where Writing and The X Factor Coincide

  1. I attended my first writers conference in 2006 and it was a major turning point in my writing life. I learned a tremendous amount, not just about craft but about writers in general. I was thrilled to discover that I fit right in and that my lack of publication was the norm rather than the exception. I also met with an agent, like you’re planning to do. My advice is to work more on your “pitch” than on your written proposal. If your meeting goes anything like mine, the agent will simply ask you questions about your book and provide feedback as to whether it is marketable. If the agent likes the idea, he or she will request an outline and/or sample chapters. The agent I met with was kind and encouraging, but also devastatingly honest. I recommend that you project confidence (instead of being a cringing wreck like I was), have an “elevator pitch” all thought out and rehearsed, and accept feedback without getting defensive. After all, it is sort of a job interview, and agents prefer to work with writers who are competent and easygoing.

    Have fun at the conference, and best of luck with your meeting!

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