The second part of the conference is the appointments and some people go just for these. On the first night the faculty is introduced. It is made up of editors, agents, authors and professional writers. On the next three days you have the opportunity of making a 15 minute appointment with any of the faculty. You can make one appointment in advance (and if you would like to see a popular editor this is a good idea). These appointments are scheduled throughout the day so while you are in a workshop people are coming and going. These appointments serve several purposes. You can pitch a book proposal or even just an idea to an editor. You can ask an editor a more general question eg. What sort of material is your publishing house specifically looking for at this time? You can ask a professional writer about their experience of getting published or for their advice. The faculty went out of their way to be helpful and encouraging. If you miss out on an appointment with a particular editor often you could meet them informally in the meal lines or in a hallway. These people were very generous with their time.
There are other appointments. I pre-arranged to have a paid critique of my book proposal and was given a half hour time slot with an editor. I found this very helpful and I was able to go back to her later in the conference with some new ideas. The attendees were also very friendly and there was no sense of competition but rather mutual encouragement. So the whole experience was enjoyable and very informative.
The question I was asked most often at the conference was, “You didn’t come all the way from Australia just to come to this conference, did you?” My response was, “Yes, I did.” And in my next post I’ll explain why.