Saturday I attended the Publish and Promote Your Book Conference at Sarah Lawrence College.  The day began with rain pouring down from gray skies as I sloshed my way into the Heimbold Visual Arts Center.  There were danish and muffins being served but my stomach told my brain that if it so much as even ate a crumb, it would upchuck all over me. Nerves and adrenaline tend to have that effect on me when they blend together.

I never imagined I would learn as much as I did but the information presented was phenomenal.  It was the first pitch conference I have ever attended and it cost quite the pretty penny.  I wasn’t so happy about that part and realized that because of the cost it’s not something I could do more than once a year.  But it’s totally worth attending one of these babies every year.

We heard from panels of literary agents, editors, and social media specialists.  There was also a session with Lindsay Cameron, author of Big Law and her agent Allison Hunter, both of whom spoke about the process of getting published from beginning (finding an agent) to end (having your book on the shelf of Barnes and Noble).

I met a ton of great people, newbie authors like me searching for that perfect match between agent/author so that we might have half a chance in hell of getting our own book on a Barnes and Noble shelf (I say shelf, not table, because that costs extra apparently.  See?  I learned a lot)

My pitch to the agents started at 3pm and I had a list of three names, only one of which worked with authors of cozy mysteries which is what my book genre is.  This was a bummer from the get-go but I didn’t care.  Practice makes perfect, right?

Walking into the first agent’s room, I wanted to throw up, and it sure didn’t help that they fed us chicken tacos for lunch.  WTF?  Tacos for a room full of crazy nervous debut authors trying to impress an agent!  It was hard enough not getting any of the stuff on my dress, but keeping it below my esophagus was much more challenging.

(What Nervous Looks Like)

By the end of ten minutes (I left before my 15 minute allotted time ‘cause I couldn’t bare any more pain), she had pretty much re-written my whole plot and flipped it into a serious thriller.

Newsflash…my book’s SO not a thriller, and it is far from a serious read.  If you are looking for an enthralling ‘who done it’, don’t read HOUSE CALL HEROINE.  (Forgot to mention, STREET SMARTS got shot down by the agents from the practice session-too boring)

Anyway, I walked into the second agent’s room with my head held high and decided that it didn’t matter WHAT she said because nothing could be worse than that first rejection.  My nerves dissipated, my confidence exuded and I pitched my book to this wonderful agent (she will remain nameless for the time being) who truly looked interested as I spoke.

She asked a lot of questions once I had finished my pitch, which I must have answered correctly because at the end of the FULL 15 minutes, she handed me her business card and ASKED ME FOR THE FIRST 100 PAGES OF MY BOOK!!!!!!

My feet didn’t touch the floor as I walked out of that room and I felt like I had just won the lotto!  The agent and I had clicked, and better yet, she liked my plot.

So now I need to finish editing my book, because even though she asked to read the first 100 pages of my book, it doesn’t mean she will want to read the LAST 100.

I have a long, long, long, long way to go…but the best part about this whole damn thing is that I took one itty, bitty baby step forward, and it feels great.

Until next week….