Monday, August 10, 2015

"Something for Everyone!" Days of WIK15 - One-on-One Sessions

"Something for Everyone!"
30 Days of WIK15 - Formal Critiques

What Can One-on-One Sessions Do for You?
by Tay Berryhill 

WIK attendees have three golden opportunities to receive feedback from agents: face-to-face critique, written manuscript critique, and one-on-one meetings with an agent. I’ve been fortunate to participate in all three. Each has helped me grow as a writer in different ways; all have advantages.

All written-only critiques are conducted by agents or editors who keenly target craft and marketability issues. Face-to-face critiques offer the same, but with the added benefit of a twelve-minute meeting with the expert who conducted the critique—although that person may not be an agent. One-on-one brings even more to the table—twenty minutes with an experienced agent to discuss anything. Anything. At WIK14, I spent my one-on-one time with literary agent Courtney Miller-Callihan of Greenburg Associates. Prior to our meeting, I submitted elevator pitches and one-paragraph synopses of three works-in-progress for Courtney to read in advance. I also put together a “goodie bag” of queries, first pages, and a full page synopsis of a finished draft, in case time allowed us to expand the discussion.

“...I mentioned a graphic novel I was outlining. Courtney gave me the name of her agent friend who represents graphic novels...”

During our first ten minutes, Courtney addressed the marketability of my WIPs, offering generous feedback on what was appealing and why, as well as potential pitfalls. Her input quickly gave me a clearer picture of which projects merited my attention. I then showed her a first page of the front runner, and she spent the rest of the session suggesting ways to improve it. All good. Before leaving, I mentioned a graphic novel I was outlining. Courtney gave me the name of her agent friend who represents graphic novels. I’m pretty sure that I danced out the door. For writers with a manuscript that needs detailed feedback, the formal manuscript critiques are invaluable. But for those also seeking individualized advice on queries, marketing, rejections, Internet presence, or any other topic an agent can enlighten, one-on-one is an ideal venue. Besides great advice, the meeting gave this tongue-tied writer the chance to relax and “talk shop” in a stress-free exchange with a fellow lover of words. Agents want to help us succeed. Let them. 


Tay Berryhill writes young adult novels while also trying her hand at graphic novels and picture book illustrating. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and three dogs.            

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