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The fine art of showing up

The Payoff

How do you plan to be at the right place at the right time?

This past Friday and Saturday, my wife and I attended the Frontiers in Writing conference in Amarillo, our fifth consecutive. It’s a great event, where writers of all stripes gather to hear presentations, talk shop, and make connections. We encourage each other and generally recharge our batteries.

One feature of conferences like this is the “Meet an [agent, editor, author, other industry professional] appointment.” Typically you get ten minutes to make a pitch with an agent or editor, and you need a more or less finished product ready.

Since my book, THE KING OF SILK, released earlier this year and my next project is in early stages, I almost didn’t reserve a spot this year, but requested one at the last moment. Or maybe someone or (Someone?) pushed me.

When I took my turn, the agent stood and asked if I were Joe, and if _____________ were my cousin.

It turns out he and my cousin had lived next door to each other until sixth grade and recently got in touch again through Facebook. He mentioned the conference and she mentioned I was going. He already knew who I was before I arrived. Coincidence?

In spite of my barely-started work, we had a nice talk and chatted another time or two during the conference. Maybe something will come of it. I know my work will have to pass muster, but at least we have a connection. But what would have happened if I had not signed up for the spot–would he have tracked me down? I don’t know.

So, after that long introduction, here’s the thing: Fortune looks poorly on those who don’t prepare. Craft your work as well as you can and knock on as many doors as possible. Don’t wait for Opportunity to do the heavy lifting.

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