Benefits of the BEA/WD Conference, Plus a Note on Query Letters

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Now in its seventh year, the program for the BookExpo America/Writer's Digest Books Conference is now posted!

I've been involved in the event for six years; my colleague Kelly Nickell (Twitter: @kmnickell) is the Wonder Woman behind this year's stellar program.

As part of the event (open to all attendees), Chuck Sambuchino is hosting what has now been called the Lawn & Garden Scotch Fest (aka the pitch slam with 66 agents and 4 editors). Bring your own scotch (or, in my case, bourbon). You can visit the program page for a full listing of agents and editors in attendance who you can pitch to from 3-5p on May 27.

We've had considerable success stories coming out of this event (see this post from agent Janet Reid), so if you have a completed novel manuscript or polished nonfiction book proposal, you could stand to benefit from quality face time with agents/editors, and get immediate feedback on your pitch.

I usually present a session at the conference each year; this year I'll talk about self-publishing and DIY options for the independent-minded author. In past years, I've spoken on changes in the industry, nonfiction book proposals, and query letters. The year I did query letters (in Chicago, for those who were there), the room was packed with 200+ people. I modeled it after the "Extreme Makeover" show that was popular at time, and "gutted" and transformed letters into more sound and savvy pieces.

While pitching is often the best way to get feedback on an idea, query letters are still the No. 1 way to approach an agent/editor, and there is a definite art to them. You can visit sites like QueryShark to learn how to craft a great one, and you can also get an interactive class on the topic with me. We're offering a session tomorrow afternoon focused on query letter makeovers, using query examples from writers attending. (Click here for more info and links to register.)

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