Writer’s Digest Conference Pitch Slam

I subscribe to the Writer’s Digest email distro and probably receive upwards of 2 or 3 emails from them a day. Many are events, training, books, etc that you can register for – all aimed to support authors. However, just recently, the Writers Digest Conference peeked my interest and I had to see how much it would cost to attend the Pitch Slam!

It’s in Los Angeles, so it’s within an easy driving distance, scheduled to occur on September 27-29, 2013 and they advertised having a special package for those that can only make it for one day, instead of the whole weekend. Great! So I clicked on their link and I was baffled by the price.

  • All Access: $549 if you register early
  • Saturday only: $349 if you register early
  • Students: unadvertised special discount price

This event is being advertised as a rare opportunity to pitch your book to some notable literary agents and editors, but for those that have not attended these before – it raises some concerns.

  1. Will my pitch be given in private to the agents/editors? Or will all in attendance be watching?
  2. What if I am worried about my idea being stolen? I’ve seen some really shady ‘Terms of Agreements’ that an author has to agree to before submitting to certain literary agencies that basically say that they can steal your idea. No joke.
  3. What if I’ve never done a Pitch Slam before and consequently end up failing because I wasn’t prepared? Then it would have been a waste of money.
  4. The one day deal says I get to attend one pitch slam session. Does that mean 1 agent? Does that agent represent my genre?

While I would like to go to this sort of event and get the experience (plus keep my fingers crossed!), I feel like the price is a huge barrier of entry. I can’t justify spending that much money just on hopes alone. The only other benefit is that there will be workshop/lecture sessions that I will get to attend, but since their itinerary isn’t established yet, I won’t know if those will be applicable or of interest to me.

If anyone has attended a Pitch Slam or workshop/lecture sessions, please share your experiences in the comments below.

Tips for Writing a Novel While Working a Full-Time Job

The largest and most critical issue that impacts one’s ability to write a novel is time. So when you hold down a full-time job and have a family, making your commitment to writing can be difficult to say the least. In addition, we all know that both reading and writing every day increases our skill, however, what if you don’t have time to do both? In my case, I work on average 45-50 hours a week, I go to grad school at night two days a week, I have homework, tests to study for, projects and research papers, plus I have a wife and two little girls. There isn’t time to both read and write in a single day; I must choose one or the other. So I’ve come up with some helpful tips to share with others about how I’ve found the time to write a novel.

First, wanting to write a novel requires raising it up on your list of priorities. Trying to find time to write everyday will be especially challenging if it has to compete with all the other activities and past-times that you would rather do. If that isn’t enough, try asking yourself, “What are you willing to sacrifice to be able to do all the things that you want to do in a day?” For me, I sacrifice sleep. I only do 6 hours a night.

Second, do everything you can to mobilize your writing. I use the free CloudOn app on my iPad to edit Microsoft Office docs that I keep in Dropbox/SkyDrive. I also made the move to a Windows Phone because it has Microsoft Office built in, and can edit docs stored in SkyDrive. All of these things have helped me to capture my thoughts as soon as I have them, and allow me to utilize any downtime (like waiting in a doctors office) toward making progress on my novel. Alternatively, if mobilizing your writing isn’t for you, then bring a book with you wherever you go (digital or print) and use the downtime throughout your day to read as much as possible.

Third, set a realistic expectation for yourself. Think about how much you should be writing a month. Do you know what your average word count is for your chapters? Do you know what your estimated word count for your novel is? 50,000? 70,000? 100,000? Try to do the math so that you can finish your novel within a year or less.

Words Per Year Goal Words Per Month Words Per Week Words Per Day
60,000 5000.0 1153.8 164.4
70,000 5833.3 1346.2 191.8
80,000 6666.7 1538.5 219.2
90,000 7500.0 1730.8 246.6
100,000 8333.3 1923.1 274.0

Fourth, just write. Don’t self-edit until the end. Get the words onto the page so that you can flush out the entire story. Save editing and revisions for later.

Here’s a Writer’s Digest article that adds some other suggestions: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Time