- Jennifer Bort Yacovissi
- May 18, 2021
The virtual 2021 Washington Writers Conference Zooms into the history books.
After the heartbreaking but necessary decision to cancel last year, everyone at the Independent was determined that the 2021 Washington Writers Conference would go on, one way or the other. As it turned out, the only way was virtual.
Understanding that many of us are suffering from Zoom fatigue after our year in quarantine, we elected to spread the offerings out over a few weeks and focus on brass-tacks publishing issues. The conference included two panel sessions with literary agents and another two with successful indie authors and book-publicity and marketing pros to give our attendees a solid sense of their publication options.
Finally, the conference was capped off with two days of our signature agent pitches, in which attendees had the opportunity to meet with their choice from among 25 agents. At any Washington Writers Conference, the agent-pitch room is always a hive of activity; for this year’s volunteers, managing the pitches on Zoom took that semi-controlled chaos into a whole new dimension.
Thankfully, from the perspective of both the agents and the attendees, the operation ran pretty smoothly. Most important, though, was the positive reaction the agents had to the projects they were pitched.
We regularly hear from agents that our conference is known for the preparation and professionalism of our participants, and for the quality of their work. This year was no different. “I’ll be doing A LOT of reading!” said one agent, smiling, after observing that so many projects sounded so compelling that she had to say yes to seeing more.
For their part, attendees noted that our two panels with agents — one discussing the nuts and bolts of a solid query letter and the other building on that hard work to craft a captivating in-person pitch — were a big help in honing both their pitch and the follow-up query letter every pitcher hopes to be asked for.
This year, some of those pitches were knocked out of the park: Several attendees report that every agent they met with asked to see sample chapters or an outline. That’s the definition of a successful conference.
Still, we realize that nothing compares to the energy, excitement, and camaraderie of an in-person event, and we’re already looking eagerly to 2022. Be sure to stay plugged into the Independent for all the latest conference news as we gear up for what promises, next year, to be a dynamic reunion of old friends and a chance to make new connections within the vibrant DC-area writing community!
Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, a member of the Independent’s board of directors, served as de-facto chair of this year’s Washington Writers Conference. Her nervous tic should clear up any day now.