Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September's Ask the Prez

After the initial Ask the Prez column where I introduced myself, gave a brief history, and asked folks to ask me questions, I received a few of them. Two of the questions revolve around our Pikes Peak Writers Conference and how we choose the wonderful faculty that comes to help educate our attendees.

David e-mailed and asked two questions:
  • How are agents chosen for the conference?
  • Does the conference reach out to them or do they reach out to the conference?
J.T. Evans's answer:

We find most of our agents and editors through personal invites we send out to them. How do we choose who to invite? Some of the people on our list are via referral from other agents and editors we've had in the past. Sometimes, we have the head of a literary agency come to our conference and he would like some of his associate agents to come to the conference as well. We also find that agents are generally very friendly toward one another, despite being business competitors, and we'll get cross-agency referrals as well.

This is part of what I love about the writing community. Publishing is not a zero sum game. Agents love helping other agents. Writers love helping other writers. The genuine support everyone gives to everyone else warms my heart.

We also have a huge word-of-mouth "advertising campaign" where agents and editors get together at other conferences, talk about their past experiences, and share glowing reviews for how things went at the PPWC. This brings our conference to other professionals's eyes, and they often reach out to us and request to attend the PPWC. For the e-mails we send out, we generally end up with around ten agents and editors, combined. It's a bit easier for us to land agents than editors because editors don't reveal their e-mail addresses on their publisher's web site by design. If an editor exposed her e-mail address on a publisher's web site, imagine the flood of unsolicited manuscripts that would flood her inbox. This is why Pikes Peak Writers always respects the privacy of every author, agent, editor, attendee, and staff member.

The next member question comes from Catherine who asked:
  • How does PPW choose the authors for their conference? There are so many great writers out there, the selection process has to be daunting.
J.T. Evans's answer:

We choose our authors through a variety of methods. Some approach us. We approach others. There are also some authors referred to us by past attendees, past faculty, and past keynotes. Almost everyone with one PPWC experience in their past wants to help us find more great speakers for our conference.

As an example, I went to the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in August and met roughly 3.2 million (slight exaggeration) authors, agents, editors, fans, publishers, and all-around great people. I went with about 100 business cards and came home with four. The vast majority of cards were given out on behalf of PPW-related conversations. I had some high rollers (authors and editors) seek me out, so they could check in about coming to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. It was, quite honestly, mind blowing. The "word of mouth campaign" that I talked about earlier is huge for us. We don't ask people to talk nice about us. We do our best to provide a wonderful conference, and that results in people gladly talking about our great organization and conference.

To find out more about how to submit a proposal to us for consideration, please head here.

I hope my responses answered your questions. If you have some follow-ups, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I'll respond there. If a follow-up is in-depth, I might reserve it for a future article.

Ask me questions!

I want to learn more about what's on your mind in the PPW universe. Quite a bit goes into what we do to keep the ship running smoothly, and I'm sure many of you out there want to know some things. How do we do what we do? How can I help you keep PPW a great organization? What's the history of PPW? Who does what within the organization? These are just some sampler questions. I'm certain your immensely creative minds can come up with more (and probably better) questions.

If you have questions for me, please e-mail me at with the subject line of: Ask the Prez.

Within the e-mail let me know your question(s), and if it's okay if I use your first name in the blog post. Also, let me know if you want an urgent answer in private e-mail, or if you can wait for me to queue up the question and get it out here on the blog. I expect to answer one to two questions a month in this column.

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