Tips for Preparing for a Writing Conference

Culled from numerous posts and articles, here’s lots of advice on getting the most out of a writing conference.

 

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

1.1.  Decide on which workshops you want to attend and which editors you want to meet with

1.2.  Google the writers, editors and agents who will be at the conference and get a sense of what they’ve written, what kind of publications they edit and what kinds of writers they represent.

1.3.  Make sure that the people you will meet at the conference are the right ones for you to talk with and that the publisher is looking for what you have to offer.

1.4.  If you know that your book will be perfect for a publisher, but the only editor represented by that publisher works with a different line, talk to that person anyway. Editors will typically know whether your manuscript should be forwarded to another department within their house.

1.5.   Take advantage of authors who are there. Authors who are on faculty will have enough experience with writing and publishing to help tweak your work and offer good advice.

  1. COME PREPARED.

2.1.  Business cards—with your photo on it.

2.2.  A notepad and pen.

2.3.  Don’t bring your entire manuscript or proposal. Instead bring a sample of that work and a one-sheet proposal to give an editor an idea of what your book is about.

  1. BE PROFESSIONAL.

3.1.  Dress professional casual makes a good impression.

3.2.  Attend the opening ceremonies banquet. You may sit with other authors and speakers from around the country.

3.3.  When meeting editors and agents, don’t rush them or forget that perhaps they need a little break.

3.4.  When approaching editors and agents, ask if they want to be solicited, and then listen to their answers.

3.5.  Don’t try to pitch right there—ask how they like to be approached (e-mail, text, phone) and then do exactly as they say. Sales don’t happen at conferences.

3.6.  If an agent or editor is interested in learning more about you or your work, they will want to see a business card, webpage, and social media following

  1. BE REALISTIC.
    Don’t count on meeting your agent, signing with them and having them sell your work before the conference is over.
  2. SET GOALS UP FRONT.

5.1.  When deciding on a conference to attend, research the type of conference that suits your needs.

5.2.  Decide where you want to focus: generating work, mentoring or contact with other writers.

  1. MAKE CONNECTIONS.

6.1.  Talk to everyone around you. You’ll triple what you learn, make friends and get tips you couldn’t get any other way. When you get home, send a ‘so glad to have met you’ e-mail, and then stay in touch.

6.2.  If you have a writing specialty, and the person you’re talking with has another, ask, ‘Do you know anyone here who writes about X, as I do? Will you introduce me, or point them out?’

6.3.  This is a learning experience so don’t be afraid to prepare questions to ask authors, agents, and editors

  1. NETWORK NATURALLY.
    You’re there to meet like-minded folks
  2. PERFECT YOUR PITCH.
    • 1. Write a one sentence blurb and memorize it.

8.2.  Have a clean, crisp three-sentence pitch for your project: title, hook, basic premise.

8.3.  Do not compare yourself to famous, bestselling novelists.

8.4.   Allow enough time for the agent or editor to ask you questions!

9.     Do’s & Don’ts

9.1.  Do go to as many educational sessions as possible and take notes.

9.2.  Do bring extra cash. In addition to buying books, you’ll want to schmooze & make writer friends.

9.3.  Do read other writers’ blog posts describing their experiences at conferences before you go.

9.4.  Don’t pass agents or editors any pages during a pitch. Agents can’t carry around sample pages from all the writers they meet.

9.5.  Don’t come to a meeting with an agent with a long, rambling pitch. Aim to discuss your book and yourself in 90 seconds.

9.6.  Don’t skimp. Most conferences charge a base fee to attend, and then they charge for add-ons, including pitches to agents, critiques or the fancy dinner with the evening keynote speaker.

9.7.  Don’t monopolize an agent’s time. If you sit down at a table and an agent joins you and others, know that most if not all of the people next to you will want to chat with the agent. Be respectful and don’t dominate her attention for long periods of time.

  1. Conversation Tips
  • Make eye contact
  • Watch your posture
  • Match the other person’s body language
  • Walk into the room with purpose
  1. Conversation Starters
  • What are you writing?
  • Why do you write?
  • When did you start writing?
  • Where did you get the idea for your current project?
  • What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
  • When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  • What’s your favorite conference you’ve been to?
  • What’s been your favorite class so far?
  • What’s the best tip you’ve learned about writing?
  • What’s the best book you’ve ever read?