Regarding my memoir…

on May 5, 2012 in Musings, My memoir

My palms were sweaty, my throat was dry.  I stood up straight and sucked in my stomach.  First impressions are important.  Finally, the girl seated at the table stood up and shook the agents hand.  She briefly glanced my way, then bolted toward the door.  The agent sighed, then turned to me.  I exhaled the breath I didn’t know I was holding and said, “Good morning.  I’m Kitty Kessler.  Thank you for meeting with me today.”

Thanks to The Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference, agents and editors had come to my town and wanted to meet with authors, both new and previously published.  There were writers of all genres, from science fiction to romance.  I met a sweet young librarian and a tiny lady in her 80s that writes instructional manuals for office equipment.  I hugged a kind ghost writer and traded cards with a playwright.

My weekend was filled with workshops and I learned more than I thought I didn’t know.  I filled a notebook with priceless tidbits of information and advice.  Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing.  What exactly does an agent do for the author?  E books.  Owning the rights to your book.  Formatting.  Marketing.

On Friday, I hastily rewrote my pitch and then was chosen to practice in front of crowded room.  The feedback and suggestions I received were invaluable, and after dinner I went home with a new, unpolished pitch.  Tim listened to my excited rambling far into the night, until his soft snore told me to quit.  The puppies curled up under my desk as I sat down at my computer.  Two hours later, my pitch was ready and I tumbled into bed next to a now loudly snoring Tim.

Saturday morning was a blur, and all too soon I heard my own voice starting the conversation.  We shook hands as the agent introduced herself and said, “Tell me about your book.”  My briefly rehearsed and not quite polished pitch sounded rushed so I paused several times, expecting questions.  I was not interrupted.  My notes sat unseen on the table; my eyes were focused on the agent.  When I finished, she waited a moment, then quietly said, “You have an incredible story.  It’s a shame you aren’t famous.”

She went on to tell me that celebrity memoirs sell millions of copies because readers want a glimpse into a life they can only dream of living.  For a debut author to do well with a memoir, the story has to be captivating and powerful.  Then she said, “Even if you self-publish, your memoir is going to do very well.”  I couldn’t hide my excitement.  She gave me her card, and a short list of exactly what she wanted me to send to her and when.  Her next interviewee had appeared, nervously fidgeting just to my left, but she continued to talk to me about trying traditional publishing before self-publishing.

I thanked her again for her time.  After years of pouring my past onto page after page, I finally heard from someone in the publishing industry that my time was not wasted.  I had heard it before, from friends and family, but coming from someone who has the power and resources to make my dream come true… I was trembling with excitement and validation.

My additional agent interviews went similarly, and all but one asked me to submit something or another to them.  I was sad to see the conference end on Sunday afternoon, but anxious to get home to start polishing my “requested submissions.”  I’m not even upset about the agent that wasn’t interested.  One agent asked for more than the others, but insisted I polish my manuscript and have at least two friends read it before I send it to her.  She also wants to see their comments.

One of the things that was repeatedly discussed at the conference was internet presence.  As a debut author, I need to be out there so people can find me.  Blogging was highly recommended.  And so I have.  And will continue to do so.  Thank you for listening to me brag.

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