Later this week I will be attending the first ever writing conference sponsored by BlogHer and Penguin in NYC.
Obviously I am excited! This is a stepping stone to a literary career and I expect to come out of it with a few agents, a bidding war and a Pulitzer Prize in Yet Unwritten Works.
Here are some of the tricks that I’m planning to use at the conference. Feel free to borrow them as well!
1. Don’t overthink your “elevator pitch.” Traditionally an elevator pitch is a few to-the-point and memorable sentences about your proposed book that will wow the literary agent/publisher that you are talking to in a few minutes.
Why not kill a few birds with the same stone by pulling the emergency brake on the elevator thereby trapping yourself with your target in that metal coffin? Now that you’re safely encased mid-air, you will have your hostage’s complete attention and can explain in detail all your ideas without the pesky inconvenience of time constraints. And no need to worry about being memorable!
2. Make sure to refer to your proposal as your manifesto. It has that certain fringe effect that the publishing community really goes for!
3. Mention that you don’t like to be hampered by spelling and grammar rules. It worked for e.e.cummings and it’s just a matter of time before it makes a comeback! Ride that wave.
4. Hint that others have plagiarized your work. This works especially well if the others are writers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Charles Dickens. Go big or go home.
5. Be confident. This is not the time to be a shrinking violet. When speaking to an agent or an editor, say things like “you are very fortunate to have an audience with me.”
6. If someone asks you what books you enjoy reading, say, “I love my own writing and am constantly inspired by it.”
7. Do not make eye contact. Writers are recluses and you have to act the part.
8. Do not shower. Writers are recluses without hot water and you have to smell the part.
9. Mention that you are good friends with famous writers. If pressed for names, hint that you and Thomas Pynchon often go clubbing together in the Meatpacking District.
10. When introduced to published writers, say “never heard of you.” They will appreciate it because it will make them feel like regular people.
11. At the cocktail reception on Thursday night, drink as much as possible. This will guarantee that you will look and feel your best!
12. Make an impression. Asking “so where’s the publishing world’s casting couch, because I need to lay down!” is a fine throwaway line.
13. Refer to yourself in the third person. This can also be filed under General Life Advice.
14. If someone expresses an interest in your work, show your business savvy. A simple, whoa there, Salieri will let everyone know that you’ve got their number. Make sure to carry a cease and desist letter with you just in case. Have the letter copyrighted.
15. If you are working on a memoir about growing up in the former Soviet Union, work in a mention that you’re happy to take some of that poetic license you keep hearing so much about and work in a sub-plot of gender reassignment or whatever else is trending that week.
Good luck! See you at the conference. Or at the National Book Awards.