My email box has been deluged with offers of online writing classes and workshops and seminars since I started entering writing contests a couple of years back. I’ve alternately been skeptical of and tempted by them, with my skepticism always winning out. Until this week.
I finally registered for a Writer’s Digest “boot camp” being put on by four literary agents from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, mostly because one of them was on my list of potential dream agents. I had the $200 and I had the time, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
The three day webinar was called “Vital Insights on Writing and Selling Your Story Boot Camp” and it lived up to its name. It featured a one hour live lecture from one of the agents and then a three hour live chat (via Blackboard) with all four agents. All of this was geared toward getting my query letter and first five pages polished and ready for submission. I sent both items off to my assigned agent (the one I was already interested in) this morning. And I’ll get a critique back by the end of the month. In addition to that, the webinar came with a one year online subscription to the Guide to Literary Agents atwritersmarket.com.
Even if my assigned agent hates my submission and I only get to scratch her off my list, I’m glad I participated. I learned so much in that tight little window of time. Mostly from the incredibly generous agents that somehow didn’t wilt under the machine gun-like questions my fellow students and I fired at them for three hours, but also from the other participants. And it was comforting to see so many other unpublished novelists who share my fear and confusion over how to approach an agent. All of that aside, the best thing I came away with was my query letter. It has yet to be read by anyone outside of my critique group, but I have never been happier with it. For the first time I feel ready to send it out into the world. That alone was worth $200 and a few hours of my life.
So, if one of these Writer’s Digest University classes looks like something you want to try, I encourage you to give it a shot. Sure they’re offering them to make money off of you, but now I also believe that they’re trying to help folks like me who just want to figure out how to get their book published.