I attended recently an international Writers' Conference, held locally. I was there as a volunteer, my third year to do offer my services. The Conference is geared towards those writers who are looking to publish in what can be called traditional methods (for some reason this reminds me of the traditionally built Mma Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency but that is probably because I have recently been listening to the audio tape on the drive to work. The main character, Mma Ramotswe, from Botswana, describes herself as traditionally built.) But, I digress.
I am self-published or sometimes I say that I am published through Amazon, since they have made it possible for me to publish my books. But there are still people, probably many people, who want to be represented by an agent and published by a publishing company. Conference attendees are allowed to sign up for one ten minute 'pitch' appointment each day. This is a period of time that they sit across a table from a literary agent or publisher and talk about their book, trying to interest the agent or publisher in representing them or publishing their book. Part of my day was spent keeping the line of waiting people in order. People, mostly women it seemed, were nervous. They study their notes, they go into empty rooms to practice what they are going to say. It is something like a job interview. I have read that agents take on less than one tenth of one percent of the manuscripts that cross their desks or rather, writers who sit across from it, perched nervously on the edge of a chair. But mostly they tell me as they leave that the agent/publisher was very friendly and approachable so that makes me feel good about the organization I volunteer for once a year, even if that part of what they offer isn't what I am looking for.
One factor I did notice was that something like eighty percent of the conference attendees were women. I wonder what that signifies? That most of the upcoming writers are women or that men stay home and write and women enjoy the social and mutually supportive atmosphere of conferences?