Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reasons to Go to Conferences- Part 2

REASON #2- You Could Get a Contract (or Two)

If getting an agent at a conference is like getting a four-of-a-kind in poker, then getting an actual contract is a straight flush. It is hitting the jackpot. The only thing better would be to get a Royal Flush like picture book author, Karen Rostoker-Gruber. Karen got TWO book deals from attending one conference! Here's the story in her own words:

Back in 2001 I wrote a book called "Food Fright." I thought it was really
good, so I sent it in to Dial Books. (This is relevant by the way--later,
much later, in the story.)

1 month later I got a "we don't take unsolicited manuscripts" letter back
in my mail box from Dial--no surprise there!

That same day, I drafted a query about "Food Fright" and I resent it to
Dial Books.

I didn't hear back from Dial and the due date for the RUCCL was coming up.
Knowing that that was my best book, I sent it into the conference.

1 month later someone from Dial told me to submit the whole manuscript to
them and mark it "requested material" and send it directly to Karen

I immediately did as told and sent "Food Fright" to Karen Riskin at Dial.

In August I heard that I had gotten into the RUCCL conference and was
sooooo excited.

Two nights before the conference, I had a dream that I got Karen Riskin at
Dial as my mentor.

I freaked out. What if that was true? What if I got Karen Riskin as my
mentor at the conference? Would she be upset that she came all that way
to read something that she had already read and possibly rejected at Dial.

I called my friend Edna the next day. "I'm not going to the conference,"
I told her.

"What? You have to go!"

I told her about my dream and my feelings. She told me to stop being
strange, bite the bullet and come to the conference. She also said, "What
are the odds that Karen Riskin was an editor that was even invited to the
conference. And, if Karen Riskins was invited as a mentor to the
conference, what are the odds that you'd get her. Plus, if even you did
get Karen Riskin as your mentor, maybe she wouldn't be angry with you for
submitting the same work to her as you did to the conference and maybe she
hadn't even read it yet."

I thought about it. I knew Edna was right. I needed to go to the

Soooooo, I'm at the conference breakfast. (This is where you go through
your folder to see who you are matched up with.) I look down the
list.....L M N O P Q R......


.......................................Karen Riskin

I almost DIED right then and there. Freak-out city is what I'd call it.
I tried to calm down, but it was hard. My dream was becoming a reality
and I wasn't sure if it was going to be a good or bad thing, but it was
most def a thing.

As it turned out the meeting with Karen Riskin was the most amazing
one-on-one I have ever had.

As soon as we sat down this is what she said:

"I can't believe that I got you as a mentee because just yesterday, at
Dial, I read you manuscript "Food Fight."

(Now I am really beginning to freak-out, as this was exactly like the
dream that I had had.)

.........and then this morning I opened up my folder and there was "Food
Fright" again. I just want to tell you--and I hope that you don't mind,
but I gave it to my good friend, Kelli Chipponeri, at Price Stern and
Sloan. Do you have anything else for me to see?"

Did I have anything else for her to see, I had a whole folder filled with
wonderful manuscripts. That was when I gave her "Rooster Can't

After a few rounds of changes (over the course of a couple of months after
the conference) Karen Riskin bought Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" and
Kelli Chipponeri at PSS bought "Food Fright."

It was unreal!

All I am going to tell you is this: if you get into the conference, you
are a really talented writer. I didn't know that the three times that I
had gotten in.

Now, being on the other side, I know it is true. The competition is
fierce and there are sooooo many applicants that are worthy, but we can
only pick 75 to 80 mentees each year--space issues.

The editors don't get paid to come to this conference. They are coming on
their own time. They know that we have quality mentees and that is why
they continue to attend this conference.

If you get in, just know, it may change your life!



Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*gasp* Wow, Corey, you are coming up with some doozey pub journey stories.

Tess said...

Holy COW, that's amazing. What are the chances of that? Pretty slim, I'd say.

thanks for sharing.

Mother Hen said...

Excellent and inspiring story. What a break.

B.J. Anderson said...

WOW. That's when you should run out and buy a freaking lottery ticket!!

Kim said...

Wow! This girl sounds like the Stephanie Myers (is that how you spell her name?) of picture books. Too cool!

Anonymous said...

Another GREAT reason to attend conference.

What an inspirational story. Thanks for sharing.

Lydia Kang said...

Wow, what a story! It seems almost unreal how it happened.
Thanks for sharing! I love happy endings!

Clementine said...

O.k. I want to know what she ate before bedtime because I want a dream like that!

lisa and laura said...

AMAZING story. I want to go to a conference SO SO SO badly. Maybe next year??? Fingers crossed.

Z-Kids said...

What a chain of experiences! Super story! And Congrats!
- AZ