Cover of novel Confessions of an Internet Pornographer

Cover of novel Confessions of an Internet Pornographer

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why you should go to the next Writer's Digest Writers Conference

     The reason a writer with a good novel should go to a Writer's Digest Writers Conference is for the opportunity to meet with publishing professionals. Their input, advice and even their facial expressions as you explain your book are invaluable, even if you do not find an agent. After having self-published a book alongside 2, 999,999 other writers I've learned the importance of god advice and networking.  
How a writing conference works:
     The 2011 WD conference took place in the Sheridan Hotel in New York City. In one large room packed with writers from all over the country, and from every genre. Most of the morning was spent listening to people in the industry talk about the state of book publishing. Most of the presentations were about self publishing, which my wife thought was a very ominous sign. We spent the morning listening to advice about marketing, promotion and how to build a writers platform. Everyone listened politely, but we all knew why we were all there - to meet a book agent.
     After lunch we gathered in a large room filled with anxiety and about two dozens little desks. Each desk had two chairs, in one sat a literary agent eager to discover the next James Patterson, the other one was wanna-be authors. Lines formed quickly, so take my advice, do your research. All the agents who will be attending are listed in the WD web site so know who you want to see before you get to the conference. Focus on the ones who are looking for your type of novel. You will probably only have enough time to visit the ones you picked out - time moves fast.  
     Prepare your elevator pitch. What is that? Well, imagine if you were in an elevator and suddenly Steven Spielberg gets on. He strikes up a conversation as he pushes the 20th floor button. "Oh, you're a writer?" he asks. "Tell me about your book." You have a minute to tell a great director the plot, setting, characters, inspiration etc.of  your book before he  disappears forever. You must be able to convey everything about your book, and you, in one quick elevator ride that can change your life. Don't take the elevator pitch lightly, write it down, practice it. Have it memorized and fine tuned.  Your pitch will also be valuable for marketing purposes later on and may even be your  advertising. We were only given 2 minutes to pitch our novel to each agent and then it was time to move on to the next. During your speech some of them will smile, some ask questions, others just stare at you, be prepared for that. You will get in line again until everyone has heard your pitch.  
This was my elevator pitch: "Confessions of an Internet Pornographer is a book about a cab driver who builds an erotic web site, in a desperate attempt to make a better life for his family. With no idea what he is doing. Jose, his wife and his in-laws build an erotic web site dedicated to the secret fantasies of it's members."
     You really don't need to carry a bunch of manuscripts. This may sound obvious in our digital world, but just in case one of you was wondering - agents meet dozens of writers and can't carry 50 pounds of paper home. If they are interested in your book, you can send them the material via    e-mail or submit the material as per their specifications later. If you must bring a sample of the work, bring the first couple of chapters.
     Now, as you all might know I do not have an agent, and although my book's concept and plot received favorable attention at the 2011 WD conference it was subsequently turned turned down. In the end I had to self publish my book and after having done so I now know why I was turned down. My book was too risky to publish. It was a self publishing venture from chapter one, I just didn't know it. It's okay, because it is exactly the book I wanted to write. It may not be making me money or famous, but some day, when I am a successful world renown author. I will look back and read it with great love and pride.

     Yet despite my failure to secure a literary agent on my first go-around, I still believe that anyone with a finished book must go to a writers conference that offers a chance to pitch your book to a literary agent. I have every intention of going to another conference when the book I'm currently working on is finished. This years WD conference was in L.A. which is the setting of the book I'm currently putting together - a missed opportunity.
     Come 2015 I'll be traveling wherever for another chance to pitch. Why? Because it is the best way for us to stand out above the crowd. The agents might not remember your name, but they might remember your story. Maybe they will remember your enthusiasm, your personality, your passion, your voice. There is nothing like a face to face encounter.

     You should also go because it is fun to be surrounded by others who love to write and share similar dreams. You should have seen the look of desperate hope we all wore that day. Lastly, it is a chance to take a cool trip. In New York my wife and I took tour buses, saw a Broadway show and ate anything that wasn't moving.
Good luck to all! For now I  will continue writing into the wind.
Luis Mario
WD is not paying me for this post, neither is anyone associated with anything anywhere. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why you need to read Drown, by Junot Diaz.

Hello everyone,

     Just got back from vacation in Las Angeles. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. I was in L.A. with the family and we had an amazing time looking at the city lights from the Griffith Observatory and swimming in the freezing cold Pacific. While I was there I also did some research for my next  novel which takes my lead character from the streets of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, to the inner city of Las Angeles and the shores of Long Beach, California. But I'll share that with you later, for now, read-on and learn about one of the best pieces of Latino-American literature ever written.

      Drown, by Junot Diaz, is a book of short stories told with a raw honesty and grit by sympathetic characters. The people in his stories are not good or bad; they are flawed but not crewel. The book is a window into the lives of people where sadness is common place. Critics love the story entitled, How to date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie which is brilliantly funny. My favorite was Negocios, a powerful story narrated by a boy who’s father has basically abandoned his family to go to America. It is a story full of universal immigrant themes. The father is like almost all of Diaz’s characters, someone you can’t love because he’s a terrible father, but someone you can’t hate either.  

     A warning to those that do not speak Spanish. Mr. Diaz’s writing is superb, but you might find some of his prose clumsy to read. Spanish words appear with no warning or explanation. Even those who speak Spanish should have some knowledge of Caribbean Spanish or at least New Jersey Spanglish. Non-Spanish speakers will have to wonder what some of his best words mean, or use a dictionary. The story Drown was a little confusing at times. However, when a story works, it works beautifully and that is why  Mr. Diaz is one of the best writers in America. He is daring and writes fearlessly. In the end you close his book feeling satisfied, and like you have just read a great piece of writing.