Kentucky Writing Workshop 2019 #kyww

If you’ve ever been to any kind of workshop or conference.  You know what it’s like, a little learning mixed with a little socializing and a lot of networking. 

Conferences are the bane of an introverts existence.  You want to hide in the corner and fade into the wall, but you can’t.  Someone will sit beside you, someone will say “Hello,” and whether you like it or not, the speaker could call on you to answer a question.  I am an introvert to the core, and even I made a new friend simply by offering for a lady to sit with me and my husband at lunch! 

What is a #KYWW?  It’s an opportunity to learn about the publishing industry and get a pretty good idea of what you’ve gotten yourself into when you decided to become a writer.  More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to pitch your book to agents and publishers, in person! 

This is the first writing conference I’ve ever been to, and overall, I felt like it was a pretty good starter convention.  I didn’t feel overwhelmed by options or time constraints and came away with a lot of good information.  It was set up very similar to the bar association conferences I go to which provide continuing legal education classes required to keep your license to practice law.  Some classes are just better than others, some speakers better than others, and some information more useful.  

I’ll start with my expectations and the classes I attended.  To be clear, I’m pretty guarded about paying for anything I could get for free.  So, if I sign up for something like this, one requirement I have is I expect to learn things that I can’t learn through Google.  Who wants to pay for information they can easily find for free on the internet?  No one. 

The speaker of the first class I went to is a very talented speaker and author.  However, I felt the title of the class promised information which wasn’t delivered.  According to the title, the class was suppose to about publishing in general for 2019.  I went to the class because I am very interested in the industry trends for this year.  One of the most important things you need to be aware of as a writer is whether or not your book fits the trending current and projected future markets. I expected the class to be about the upcoming year in the industry, sort of an at-a-glance summary of the publishing industry in 2019.  What we got, was a large amount of the dedicated hour devoted to initial conference announcements and other useful information.  Could I find this information online just as easy?  Probably.  Did I personally already know the information provided? Yes.  Still, I am sure, there were people there who haven’t done as much research as I have, and I’m sure the session was useful to many people.  Just not me.  And except for the name of the course, I would’ve attended something else instead and made better use of my time.

I chose the second course, “Self Publishing the Right Way,” because I know I have a personal timeline to try to publish my book traditionally.  If I don’t have a signed contract with a year to year and a half then I will start the process of self publishing.  Again, the speaker is a very talented and successful author and speaker, but I felt a little let down.  The most useful information came in the form of a handout and even then, most, if not all that information is available online.  He also spent quite a bit of time talking about why traditional publishing is preferred to self publishing.  It was another class I felt didn’t meet my expectation of what was advertised compared to what was provided.  

The third course I attended was writing science fiction and fantasy that sells.  It was exactly what was promised.  The speaker was amazing, the information was useful and presented in an engaging manner. For the first time all day, I felt like I was really getting into industry secrets and advice that I wasn’t going to find through a web browser.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay for the entire class, because I had my first pitch scheduled in the middle of the class.  I’m glad the presenter gave out her contact information for follow up questions because I am totally going to email her.

The fourth course was the most useful and soul shattering of the day. “Writer’s Got Talent.”  This is where people submitted the first page of their manuscripts, anonymously, and a panel of agents critiqued them live.  I did not submit mine.  I have mad respect for those who did, you really put yourselves out there and it was intense!  I walked away with a ton of information and things to consider in my own writing, just from listening to the agents live critiques.  The biggest piece of advice I can give you, is make sure, if you submit work to an agent, it’s your beat work!  Some poor soul misspelled the first word in their manuscript.  That is so heartbreaking.  Proof read!   I’m guilty of not proof reading enough myself! 

The most important moment of the day came and went so fast I hardly knew it’s happened.  I made my first pitch to an agent in person.  Ten minutes.  It went really well!  The agent was really nice and helpful. I ended up getting information for an agent within that agency that my novel is better suited for, which is amazing!  My best advice.  Have a short natural pitch and make use of every minute you have with the agent.  Ask them anything about the industry if you have the time!  

Of other things to note: the staff was extremely helpful and the coordinator specifically was amazing and really kind in answering my questions about accessibility.  The event was well organized, at a good location (except for limited quick dining options).  My biggest critique is that I wish some of the speakers were more on point with the scheduled listed topic. Also, I wish they did post lecture surveys in order to gather input on ways to improve for future events. 

Overall, it was a worthwhile experience which I definitely don’t regret!  I would go back again just for the chance to meet other writers and the opportunity to pitch to agents in person.

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