Who’s heard of Kristin Nelson?
Maybe you’ve read her blog, Pub Rants, which has incredibly useful articles on the publishing field and her tactics as an agent. Maybe you follow her facebook or Twitter pages, which again are brimming with insightful tips.
But most likely you’ve heard of her through the authors she represents. Because seriously, you’d have to be living under a rock to not recognize at least one of these titles.
So obviously she’s a rockstar, and very, very good at what she does. As an avid reader of her blog, imagine my excitement when I found out that Kristin Nelson herself hosts webinars on various topics! And considering that I’d just finished writing Occupational Hazards, I nearly fell over myself to sign up for her “Query Letter Intensive” workshop.
It cost me $169 to sign up, with a class limit of 15 participants. Considering that I paid about $300 for DFWCon (happening in April 2016), I do think the price was a bit steep. But I’ve been following Kristin Nelson for years, so to me, it was kind of like getting one-on-one attention from my favorite celebrity. (Seriously. I was starstruck. Still am.)
I was asked to submit my query letter for Occupational Hazards, which I did. On the night of the webinar, I holed myself up in my room with Paige and Beta Krissy, both of whom were incredibly intrigued to hear the content.
It started right on time with some technical testing. The audio questions didn’t work so well, so participants settled for typing in their questions. But we could hear Kristin just fine, and see her reactions in real time as she read through our queries.
It. Was. Awesome.
There’s nothing worse than geeking out over your favorite actor, only to realize he’s a total jerk in real life. It shatters the illusion you crafted. But I can say with confidence that Kristin Nelson is just as amazing in person (uh, online) as she is on her blog / facebook / Twitter.
She was so incredibly patient and kind, while still telling us the facts about why she would or wouldn’t pass on a query. She gave honest critique and would literally pause the broadcast to say, “Okay, here’s where I would stop reading, and here’s why. But, here’s what you can do to fix this problem.”
And there’s something satisfying (read: hilarious) about seeing an actual agent’s facial expressions as she reads queries.
Of the 15 queries read, Ms. Nelson would have moved onto the sample pages of just 2 of them. There’s a (not so shocking) statistic for you.
(And since you’re wondering, no, my query wasn’t one of the good ones. In the span of 5 minutes, Kristin Nelson found a plot hole I hadn’t seen in 3 rewrites. So even though I thought Occupational Hazards was done, her words prompted the final rewrite that brought the book to what it is today!)
Aside from the individualized feedback, the most valuable part to me was the Q&A section at the end. Some of the questions she answered aloud for the class, and others she simply emailed a reply back to the participant.
But the fact that she’d take the time at all showed me Kristin Nelson really values her webinar participants. And more than that, the pride in her job was obvious. She really has a teacher’s spirit, and was happy to answer questions in a considerate, thoughtful manner.
Plus, she gave participants the option to resubmit our revised queries to her agency for publication consideration. By stating we took the webinar, our queries were streamlined through her other slush pile readers, and wound up on her desk specifically.
I’d say that’s worth the $169. You can check here for upcoming webinars, although it doesn’t look like she has any planned in the near future. But definitely subscribe to her newsletter, because she’ll announce upcoming classes there!
Plus, it’s awesome.
Have you ever taken a writing webinar? What was your experience like?