Q&A with Sheila Allee, Writers’ League of Texas Interim Executive Director

Q: What is the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference?
A: The conference offers writers – whether they are published or just starting out – the chance to meet with agents and editors who are looking for great books and new voices.

Q: Who should attend the conference?
A: Writers and aspiring writers, published and unpublished. This conference is not just for people who are already writing a book. If you’ve ever thought about writing a book and are interested in learning about the publishing industry, this is a good place to gather information.

Q: What are the benefits to attending?
A: We will have 13 agents, four editors, three experts in book publishing and film production, seven marketing/publicity professionals, and over a dozen distinguished authors on our faculty. You will have opportunities to hear them share their tips about writing and the industry, as well as chat with them informally. You will also have the opportunity to network with other writers and form alliances that will help you in your future writing endeavors.

Q: Who will be speaking at this year’s conference?
A: Our keynote speaker is Alan Rinzler, an editor who has worked with Hunter S. Thompson, Toni Morrison, Clive Cussler, Tom Robbins and Robert Ludlum, among others. His speech will be about “Why This is the Best Time Ever to be an Author.”

Q: Who are some of the agents and editors represented at this year’s conference?
A: We have 13 agents who specialize in a wide variety of markets. Some of the agencies represented are Full Circle Literary, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Pippin Properties, Folio Literary Management, Wendy Sherman Associates, Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, and Serendipity Literary.

Q: What types of panels will be featured?
A: We have a range of panels for people at any stage of a writing career.  Some sessions are craft workshops and are designed to help develop voice, write a memoir, or bring out the writer in you. Other sessions educate attendees on the business end of writing, with panels on how to impress an agent, how to market your projects, and the different avenues of self-publishing.

Q: As a writer, what should I prepare or bring to this year’s conference?
A: If you have a book project and would like to talk with an agent about it, have your “elevator” pitch ready. It’s not necessary to bring your manuscript. If an agent wants to see it, he/she will ask.

Q: How long has this conference been going on?
A: The first conference was held in 1994 and it has been hosted annually since then.

Q: Do writers ever receive book deals while at this conference?
A: Writers very often sign with agents because of the conference and those agents secure book deals. A number of success stories from previous conferences are posted on our website. 

Q: How should attendees prepare for their agent one-on-one meeting?

A: If you have a book to pitch to an agent, be sure to have your “pitch” ready when you have your agent consultation. A two to three-minute speech about your project’s basic plot, its genre/market, and what makes it unique is all that is necessary. This is an opportunity to get feedback from an industry professional, so they should also come prepared with any burning questions about publishing or how to make their manuscript more salable. For a separate fee, we are offering a pre-conference workshop on how to perfect your pitch. It is scheduled the afternoon of Friday, June 22.

Q: What advice do you have for writers attending this year’s conference?
A: Come ready to learn about the ever-changing world of publishing and to network with other writers. Even if you don’t have a book that you are working on, you may have one in mind and the knowledge you gain and the connections you make at the conference will be very helpful when you sit down to write.

Q: What’s the difference between the agents conference general ticket and the agents conference YA A to Z ticket?
A: The conference offers two workshop tracks – the general track and the Young Adult track. Attendees who sign up for the general track will be able to attend workshops and panels on a broad range of topics relating to writing, publishing and marketing many book genres. The YA track is for writers who are writing young adult fiction. Registrants can also purchase a combined ticket and attend any of the sessions.

Q: What are the event dates?
A: June 22-24

Q: What is the cost to attend the conference?
A: If you are a member of the Writers’ League, the cost is $399. For nonmembers, the fee is $459. If you want to attend the Young Adult track only, the fee is $299 for members and $359 for nonmembers. Attendees wanting to attend both the general and Young Adult tracks will be charged $434, with nonmembers paying $494.

We will accept walk-ins, but the registration fee will be higher. A full listing of costs is located on our website www.writersleague.org

Q: Where is this year’s conference?
A: Austin’s Hyatt Regency Hotel

Guest post by Sara Pence, Assistant Digital Publicist, Shelton Interactive.


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