I just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park Colorado. Great conference, I’ve gone to it for thirteen or fourteen years.
I had a couple of solid days of appointments there and saw some good projects. There were also some others that were not ready to submit and that’s okay.
I’ve been to some conferences that do not allow the scheduling of appointments unless the conferee has a project finished and ready to submit because of the large number of people attending the conference. There are too many people there that really need the appointment to get a submission invited and to pave the way for it.
Other conferences have an attendee/faculty ratio that permits more latitude in the scheduling for conferees that might not be ready to submit yet. This is okay at these conferences and the conferee should be sure to find out what the rules are when they attend. We call these “teaching appointments.”
When it is acceptable most agents and editors don’t mind teaching appointments, many even enjoy them. I know I do as long as I know right from the beginning that is what it is instead of sitting there waiting for a pitch that isn’t coming.
A teaching appointment is a great chance to get comfortable with the process of having a one on one about your project. It’s a good chance to test the water on the viability of the project you have in progress which could affect the way you are going with it. With an agent appointment it’s a chance to see if you need an agent or if you are ready for one. It’s a chance to network and make connections that could be important to you down the road.
Editors and agents have committed time to the conference and we like to see good use made of it. So if you are at a conference that allows such appointments I encourage you to make the most of them if that is the point where you are in your writing.
It’s a chance to see that editors and agents don’t bite . . . and in fact, want the best for you and your writing and will help if they can.