It was the first nice weekend of the year. It was the first big festival of the Iowa City festival year. And it was one of my first weekends in the area! Mission Creek Festival was like my welcome to Iowa City.
A smorgasbord of cultural events focusing on literature and music, this event was never on my radar before but certainly right up my ally! (for more details: http://missioncreekfestival.com ).
I’m sad to say that as a new comer to the area, I don’t really have anyone yet to go to these types of events with so I was only brave enough to venture to a couple venues. I attended a panel discussion for Iowa writing students made up of professionals in the publishing industry. Wonderful discussion on the opportunities in that career path and great insider tips for those who are, like myself, hoping to get published. My favorite panel topic was ‘what not to do’ or “did you have any authors who turned you off right away?”.
- Always be gracious!! These are industry people who are typically overworked and underpaid and it is wonderful that they can take the time to consider your piece at all. Make them feel appreciated
- Get. Their. Name. Right. One of the panel was the amazing Kristen Radtke and she said she has writers misspell her name…and it’s right in the email address. Lazy and rude!
- If you use a form cover…make sure you change the house reference. There was an instance where the opening sentence was correct, but later in the cover it said “I would be honored that xyz house would consider my work for inclusion.” except it was the Wrong House! The panelist said she emailed back “well you should email them then..”.
- No mass emails. Janaka from Black Ocean said there was one that was a mass email that didn’t even bother to BCC the others in the group. That was ugly.
- Pitch it elevator style. No more than two or three sentences explaining the piece. Short and surgically to the point!
- Focus the pitch on
- why you…credentials, publications, expertise or experience
- why now…what makes this readable at this time
- why this house…especially this one. be selective about the fit!
- Proof read. Proof read. Proof read!! Have someone else do it too, sometimes you’re just too close to see the errors.
Aside from the sage advice and fascinating anecdotes of the panel, I was wholly impressed with the crowd size and attention of the mostly early 20’s crowd that was standing room only at the venue at FilmScene and their extremely astute and mature questions! There is talent dripping with intelligence out here boys and girls. Get ready!
After that LitCrawl kicked off and I was able to partake of at least one venue’s offering. And it was stellar!
I attended the event hosted by White Rabbit of wonderful poets presenting their work to a packed house! A well deserved packed house! The readings were amazing. I was in 7th heaven.
Except for the whole, attending alone thing. But hey, next time maybe I’ll have found some folks to rub elbows with and I’ll have a new social circle to spin in around Iowa City as well as at the festivals.