Friday, September 13, 2013

What I Learned at Slice Magazine's Literary Conference

{What I got: Slice tote bag, Slice magazine, Poets & Writers magazine, 
As you know, I attended Slice Magazine's Literary Conference on Saturday and Sunday. It's a conference that I went to two years ago, but for some reason I felt more open to the experience this time around and therefore learned so much more from the authors, agents, and editors that were there. 

Slice is a Brooklyn-based nonprofit print magazine that launched in 2007 by editors Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson. At it's core, Slice aims to bridge the gap between emerging and established authors by offering a space where they can be published side-by-side. They garnered rave reviews from authors, agents, and editors alike and have had success in the literary community. {Follow Slice on Facebook & Twitter.}

One of the reasons Slice created this conference was to bridge the gap between authors and the publishing world. The founders wanted agents and editors to give insight into what really happens behind the closed doors of big and small publishing houses, and to help writers with how to transform their novel. 

This is one of the main reasons I really loved this conference. It was not only about how to motivate yourself to write and tips on editing your work, but it gave a behind the scenes look. I now have a better understanding of what agents and editors do, how they think, what they're looking for, and what happens when those professionals have my novel in their hands. 

I could only go to half the panels (since I can't be in two places at once), but I learned so much valuable information from the ones I did attend. I picked out a few talking points that resonated the most with me from each panel since I didn't want to keep it all to myself. 

The Self-Publishing Revolution:
  • Digital presses have the same teams and resources that a regular publisher has
  • You can both pursue agents and self-publish
  • Understand your market!

What You Say / What Agents Hear:

  • A query letter should be professional, straightforward, and honest
  • Address a query letter personally to the agent
  • Add comparative titles in the query: (ie. my novel is a mix of this novel and this novel)

How To Promote Yourself Online:

  • No one else is going to market you
  • It helps you build a readership for the future
  • Authentically engage with your readers / followers
  • What does your audience engage with?

The Road to Success:

  • Success is different for everyone
  • Make sure the changes you make to your novel are ones that you are 100% behind because your name is on the cover

What Really Happens in an Editorial Meeting:

  • Editors have to really love the book to want to buy it because they're going to spend so much time on it
  • Know why your book is different
  • Know what hole in the marketplace your book is filling
  • Arm the editor with talking points about your book

Changes: What Happens When An Editor Gets Your Manuscript

  • An editor shapes your idea of what your book is going to be and helps you with the process
  • They don't edit to change it, they edit it to make it its best
  • Be honest with yourself about deadlines
  • Hone a two-sentence pitch of your book!

Beyond the Book Deal:

  • Submit to literary journals to have your platform already (ie. blog, published stories)
  • Build the buzz for your book: blog, social media, family and friends can help

Giants: Great Characters

  • What draws you to your characters?
  • Turn stereotypes into real people
  • Nurture the obsession that initially made you want to write the book

There were a lot of authors, agents, editors, publicists, etc. at the conference, so if you want to follow the ones that have Twitter, I rounded them up for you.

Follow authors on Twitter:

Follow agents on Twitter:
Kristyn Keene (ICM), Meredith Kaffel (DeFiore and Company), Michelle Brower (Folio Literary Management), Carrie Howland (Donadio & Olsen), Renee Zuckerbot (Renee Zuckerbot Literary Agency), Kate McKean (The Howard Morhaim Agency), Paul Lucas (Janklow & Nesbit), Chelsea Lindman (Sanford J. Greenburger), Katherine Fausset (Curtis Brown) & Vicky Bijur (Vicky Bijur Agency). 

Follow editors on Twitter:
Jill Schwartsman (Dutton/Penjuin), Molly Barton (BookCountry/Penguin), Calvert Morgan (It Books/HarperPerennial), Sarah Bowlin (Henry Holt & Co.), Gabrielle Gantz (Little, Brown), Maria Gagliano (Co-Founder of Slice and editor at Portfolio-Penguin), Michael Signorelli (HarperCollins), Alex Littlefield (Basic Books), Emily Griffin (Grand Central Publishing), Victoria Matsui (Little, Brown) & Maya Ziv (HarperCollins). 

Follow on Twitter:
Ami Greko (Book Marketing Strategist, Goodreads), Eve Bridburg (Founder of Grub Street), Diana Franco (Publicist, Simon & Schuster) & Karen Fink (Publicist, Random House).

P.S. -- Read what my friend Rachel said about the experience!

If you're a fellow writer, good luck with your writing and I hope you learned something!
Whether you're a writer or not, what did you find most interesting?

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  1. Ah, this sounds like a great experience! I'd love to go to a conference like this. I should start keeping an eye out on events... I think P&W has a pretty decent schedule on their site?

    As someone who interned at a lit agency for a few weeks (oof, that's another story lol), I can definitely attest to how important that query letter is. And usually the agent (or their intern, first) is only reading the first few pages of the manuscript to get a feel for the story. So, it's important to hook them right away!

    Glad you had a great time and learned a lot! :)



  2. That is so cool. It looks like fun and now I want to follow those people. Gah.

  3. Silace, sounds like a nice event..
    Keep in touch,

  4. It looks like it was such a great conference! Lovely post Sara. Happy Friday! :)

  5. I've always wanted to go to the Slice conference! I really wish Vancouver were closer to NYC, I feel like I miss out on so much by being so far from the proverbial centre of the literary world. Thanks for sharing so much about your experience :)

  6. Lucky you! Seems like it was an amazing conference!



  7. This sounds like you attended the perfect conference for you because I´m sure you are taltented in writing, dear Sara! Thank you so much for sharing your experience <3

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  8. This conference sounds like it was so valuable (and so much fun!) - I'm jealous I didn't get to go! I love that you get to see both sides to the process.

  9. Wow, this post was awesome and so informative! So many of those points were amazingly true. This sounds like an awesome conference and you were so lucky to be able to attend! I wish you the BEST of weekends! Fall weather is here! :)

  10. Very, very interesting. Thank you for sharing! I'll definitely have a look around those twitter accounts.

  11. sounds like you learned a lot of great things. It will help you get your novel published!

  12. Thanks for the great roundup! It sounds like it was a very informative conference.

    I'm not sure I agree with everything under the self-publishing heading. I'd think that most digital presses DON'T have the same resources that (major) traditional publishers have - but this changes from publisher to publisher, so it's important to do a lot of research. I'd also be weary of self-publishing AND searching for an agent. A lot of agents (and eventually editors too) won't take you on as a client if you've self-published and your book didn't sell too well.

  13. sometimes the second time around does make all the difference. where you are in life and the experiences over a 2 year span seem to have brought you into a whole new space Sara. i'm glad to hear you got so much out of this conference. it sounds like a splendid event for literary lovers!!!

  14. That's what I love about conferences. They allow you to really get good insight in what other people do and I love the fact that you often get to ask questions or even chat with the speakers. In my field, there are more conferences than meetings and I always learn a lot too :) xo

  15. Exactly! Thanks for your great comment!

  16. I'm not planning on self-publishing myself, but it was interesting to learn about. I agree that self-publishers don't have as many resources as a major publisher. That was one of my worries -- if I self-publish and it doesn't go well, then a traditional publisher probably wouldn't want my book.

    Thanks for stopping by, Maria!

  17. Thanks for stopping by, Lix! Glad you found it interesting!

  18. Thanks so much, Rachael! Have a great weekend!

  19. No problem! I wish you could've gone too!

  20. It's scary to think how much goes into getting published and it makes me nervous to think about it! I want everything to be perfect, you know? I definitely got to have the perfect query letter! Thanks, Danielle!

  21. Just came across you blog and I so glad i did as I love it! Sounds like a great conference you went too!

  22. This conference sounds like so much fun! I like how it brings together authors and editors/agents. All the panels sound so interesting to learn from.


Hello, beautiful! Thanks for leaving a comment!
Have a lovely day!
~Sara ♥

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