I have very little time to impart of my vast trove of wisdom, but some of you are in such dire need, I have carved out a moment. This week, our topic is how to approach the art and science of attending a writing conference. Here are my key advices:
Step One: The most important thing you can do at a writers conference is to read your manuscript to everyone. Like this. Say your favorite author or agent is doing Q&A. You simply raise your hand enthusiastically -- flapping like a real jackassertive. When called upon, you stand up boldly in the audience and say: “I have cashed in my 401K to be here today, and to attend 41 other conferences, and if I don’t come away with a publishing contract today, my career is ruined. Your feedback will make all the difference. I will now pitch my Great American Novel to you, you lucky petard.”
And then begin reading your manuscript from page one, and don’t stop until the big-name author or agent has asked you to stop at least three times. Don’t take no for an answer. If they are insistent that you sit down, say “I won’t take no for an answer. I know my manuscript will make you and me rich. You must publish this book.”
This is by far the most useful thing you can do at a conference.
Step Two: Repeat step one at every opportunity.
For example, let’s say you are at a breakout session where an author is speaking. Raise your hand and follow step one when called upon. Everyone knows that KNOWING SOMEONE is the key to getting published -- not learning how to control a story or have a narrative voice that anyone would find appealing. Tsk, tsk, and heavens no. The real secret to seeing your name in print is who you know. Writing conferences were invented for this reason. And everyone knows, the more expensive the conference is, the more likely you are to find an agent or publisher at the event. You do know that, right?
Step Three: Don’t eat.
No one will tell you this, because it is one of the greatest-kept secrets of writing. But I am here for your advancement, you knob-heads. So I will let you in on the secret. The time to really pitch your manuscript is during lunch. Only fools eat lunch at writing conferences. Real writers attack every agent, editor, and author they can find, standing in front of them, blocking their way, and reading from their manuscript. I suggest preying on, er, befriending the agent who has his or her mouth full. Just launch into your book. Don’t even give them a chance to speak. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
With these simple tips, you are sure to be offered the standard rich-and-famous-author contract. Now you know. I’ll be back later with more sagacity, you lucky bumpkins.
M. Guppy Tulkinghorn
Dr. Tulkinghorn, as he prefers to be called, has made his reputation on helping ill-witted onions such as yourselves, dear readers. Dr. Tulkinghorn has self-published 47 novels and 18 nonfictions, including his New York Times bestselling book, "How to Writers Conference Your Way to Unspeakable Wealth and Celebrity as a Mediocre & Not Truly Invested Writer.” (Soon to be available in paperback everywhere.) Dr. Tulkinghorn has three pieces of free advice for you, rapt readers: 1) Talk about writing more than you write. 2) Copy the trendy plot ideas -- everyone knows success is derivative. 3) Don't sign up for the local conference where people have worked tirelessly to give you access to the best writers at the least cost. You're unlikely to learn a damn thing you haven't heard and ignored 41 times before. M. Guppy Tulkinghorn is married to his wife, Wopsie “Miggs” Tulkinghorn. They live in Middle America.