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Been There, Done That – November 2018

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In our "Been There, Done That" series, Literary Mama editors and readers share their experiences at conferences, workshops, classes, and residencies. Blog Editor Rudri Bhatt Patel recalls her time at American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) in New York City, NY.

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What program did you attend?

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), 2018

2. Where was it and what was the time requirement?

ASJA takes place right in the center of New York City over two days, usually in early May. ASJA 2019 will take place on May 5 - 6, 2019.

3. What were the course offerings? 

This year the the conference program focused on the following theme: "Navigate, Motivate and Captivate." The sessions are designed to help beginners, midlevel and advanced writers on craft, pitching, and the business of writing life. In the keynote speeches attendees heard  from Aimee Ross, Daniel Jones, and Katherine Reynolds. The session includes conference workshops all day Friday and Saturday, on a variety of topics, including how to start your own writing group to elevating your personal narrative to the road to a published book. Attendees have the option to participate in Client Connections with literary agents, content marketing magazines, and traditional mainstream outlets by scheduling face-to-face time with an editor/agent for about 14 minutes to pitch an idea. It is a great opportunity to network and possibly cultivate a long-term relationship with an editor or agent.

4. How did you spend your time? 

I spent time listening to keynote speakers and hustling between sessions. On Saturday, I met with a few literary agents to determine their interest in my memoir. This year I moderated a panel on pitching and connected with writers I had met at a previous conference. During lunch breaks, I scheduled time to grab a meal with writer friends I knew online, but not in real life. In my "downtime," I browsed the book selection, introduced myself to other writers, and attended a happy hour with a group that only connected virtually in the past.

5. What did you take away from the experience?

I learned a great deal from the conference. I had the chance to listen to Longreads editor, Sari Bottom, who shared insights into what she is looking for in submissions. Dan Jones of Modern Love, delivered an exceptional talk on what it takes to publish in New York Times prestigious column. I left the conference feeling overwhelmed with the amount of notes, but invigorated with new ideas and approaches to not only the writing life, but also insights into pitching and finances.

6. Did you have the opportunity for a writing critique? Was it helpful? 

ASJA is not a forum for writing critiques, but attendees have ample opportunities to have magazine and book pitches evaluated by editors/agents.

7. Would you attend this event again? 

Yes. At ASJA 2019, I will be part of a panel discussion. Applying to be on a panel is a great way to make deeper connections with writers who I admire.

8. Share some helpful tips for a writer considering this experience. (Tips may include transportation, lodging, food, classes/instructors, or anything you think future attendees would benefit from knowing.) 

- Do your best to stay in the conference hotel. Session days are packed and it helps to run up to your room to rest or prep for your agent/editor meeting. If you register early, you are eligible for a discount.

- Take the time to network. The conference chairs and volunteers make all attendees comfortable - take advantage of this environment and make new connections. People are quite approachable and willing to talk, but sometimes you have to make the first move.

- Conference rooms are cold and it is wise to pack a jacket. Meals can be expensive at the hotel, so have a few nearby restaurants as options for dining.

- Relax. Everyone is there to learn.

Have you attended a conference, workshop, residency, or class? We'd like to hear about your experience. Email us at lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com.


The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editors are Rudri Patel and Sharon Brandwein; read their bios here and here.


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