Welcome Kelly Mortimer of the Mortimer Literary Agency to the blog! Thanks for joining us, Kelly. I'd like to talk about the upcoming ACFW conference in September.
Robin: You've attended various conferences over the years. In your opinion, what makes a conference stand out from the others?
Kelly: Clean restrooms. Sorry, my bad. Actually, the site of the conference is important. Who wants to travel 30-minutes from the airport to the hotel, and back? Someone without a life! At one conference, the hotel booked another huge group at the same time. I won't mention the name of the other company, but there were a lot of frenzied women running around wearing tiaras and sashes. No, it wasn't the Miss America Pageant. Nothing against those "pink" ladies, by the way, I use some of their stuff. But registration was a nightmare, and getting a table at the hotel restaurant nearly impossible. I'm sure I lost three months of my life waiting for the elevator to make it to the lobby. At least I spent the time wisely. One day alone I got three free makeovers....
Robin: Any advice you'd like to offer to a 1st time conference attendee?
Kelly: Come early and get acclimated to the hotel. Find the rooms where the workshops you want to attend are located, and where the conference is holding your editor/agent appointments. Knowing where you have to go and how long it takes to get there will relieve stress, especially if you're running late. Take time to "hang out." You never know who you'll meet in the rest areas and the bar. Walk around with an air of confidence. I've seen attendees who look like Jack Nicholson or Anthony Perkins is waiting around the corner.
Robin: As an agent taking appointments, what do you look for most in a new author? An established author?
Kelly: Someone with a pulse. No reason to quake in fear you'll say or do the wrong thing. Be yourself, and if that's not good enough, you don't want that editor or agent. As to established authors, I have nothing against them, but I got into this business to help the unpublished get published.
Robin: Some people have said an agent will request something from each writer they have an appointment with at a conference--simply because it's easier to reject via mail rather than face-to-face. What's your stand on this?
Kelly: Either the agent is a coward, or too worried about hurting the writer's feelings. Look, if the story isn't something you think you can sell, you'll be hurting the writer more in the long run by stringing them along. I'm not advocating slamming writers. I'd never tell anyone to quit writing. But for me, tactful honesty is worth its weight in gold.
Robin: Can you share with the bloggers some specifics of what you in particular are looking for now?
Kelly: A few good men. Oops, wrong conference. Everyone always says the same thing: "A great read that wows me! Something different." Then you give 'em something different and they say they can't sell it because they don't know what to market it as. I'll just say I could use a good contemporary writer, good non-fiction, YA or middle grade for boys, but I keep an open mind for anything else on my list.
Robin: What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming conference?
Kelly: The security checkpoints at the airport. I just love showing off my new shoes to all those bored workers. Anything to brighten up someone's day! Okay, I'll stop. I look forward to hugging my clients, especially the ones I haven't met in person. After that, meeting the editors I've spoken to, but have never seen, plus hunting down new ones so I can talk-up my talented clients, and saying "hey" to my agent friends.
Robin: We've all shared the horror stories of worst pitches, stalking of agents/editors, and our most horrible moment. What is your BEST experience in one of these areas?
Kelly: Ah, my best experience with a stalker? My best worst pitch? I don't understand the question. If you mean what is the best experience I've had, hmm. I guess the pile of thank you notes I get from writers I had to reject. They've called me, "The Agent with a Heart," the "Agent of the People," and the "Un-agent." It's tough to have to turn people down, but great if you can at least give them some insight and encouragement.
Robin: LOL Thank you so much for stopping by and giving of your time to answer my questions. I look forward to seeing you in September!
Kelly: Right back at ya, babe!
Robin: Yet one more reason to sign up for the ACFW conference. Wait. You haven't yet? My! What're you waiting for? Here's the link! See you there!