My agency, Greenhoust Lit, is having a retreat in Orlando this weekend, which is where I am at. I've already learnt some interesting things. Like, uhh, apparently, children's book writing is, like, a whole scene? Who knew? I know nothing about it. I should really figure out some way to get in on this.
Also, YA writers do a fantastic amount of self-promotion. I am shocked by the lengths they go to, scheduling their own signings and library visits and Skype talks and printing up their own bookmarks and swag and arranging all kinds of internet promotion. It's pretty amazing. It's a bit like you're self-publishing, except people can buy your books in B&N and you have the legitimacy that comes from having a big publisher.
I've heard a few post-book-deal horror stories, too, which are not too horrifying to me yet, since I don't have a deal, but will, I am sure, eventually provide me with tons of things to worry about in the months and years to come.
The people have been extremely kind and very interesting. I've said it before, but I really admire the passion and enterprise of commercial writers. So many people have asked me what my book is about and have appeared to be genuinely interested as I described it to them. Instead of having that walled-off "we're all artists who are on our individual journeys" feeling, there's more of a sense they're all engaged in a similar task and that our journeys are, in some way, comparable. It's difficult to describe. I think, though, that commercial fiction (by which I really only mean YA and SF/F fiction, since those are the only genres that I am familiar with) has a craft-oriented vocabulary that allows writers to come together and discuss plot, process, concept, theme, and character in a much more open and descriptive way, whereas in literary fiction, the terminology is more academic, which means that one can more easily situate one's work in relation to the broader history of literature and the fine arts in general, but that it's a bit harder to discuss it at the vbar.