My writer’s group is preparing for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. conference in May. We’ve attended this conference for the past two years and continue to be impressed by the professional and well-coordinated event. Conferences are a great way to network with other writers, as well as meet agents, editors, and/or publishers face to face. In an effort to help other writers who plan to attend a conference for the first time or for those who have recently attended one, we decided to put together a series of posts offering advice on what to do before (mine!), during (Leatrice), and after the conference (Dawn).
Here are some things to consider BEFORE attending a conference:
- How to know when you’re conference ready. Anyone who wants to learn more about the craft of writing or who wants to meet with fellow minded people who also hear voices or those who have done the hard work of writing, revising, and polishing a manuscript and are ready to seek representation/a publisher. If your serious about your craft, it may be time to start researching conferences.
- Professionalism. Though conferences are a blast, it’s important to behave professionally. Those agents/editors/publisher at the conference have eyes and ears. Don’t give them a reason to dismiss you. Also, it’s important to dress the part. If you intend to be taken seriously as a writer, present yourself as such. Think, business casual to business wear.
- Business Cards. Carry them with you. These should be easy to read, contain your name (or pen name), website and/or blog address, email address, twitter account, and any other social media information you wish to include. If you have a tagline which reinforces the genre you write while remaining professional, consider adding it. You can print business cards at home (I strongly recommend buying business card paper if you do) or find an online source. VistaPrint offers free options, though I recently discovered and LOVE Moo.com. If you chose to outsource, be sure to order them well ahead of time to avoid paying extra fees for expedited shipping.
- Workshop/session selection. Workshops are a place to learn how to hone your skills. Chose a variety of topics which will help round out your writer’s toolbox. If you excel in a certain area (or if you can’t help buying/reading craft books on setting, for example) try to a avoid that session, unless something in the description is new to you. Sounds simple, but I’m a sucker for nonverbal cues workshops.
- Pitching. There are two basic kinds of pitches. The elevator pitch and the agent/editor pitch. The elevator pitch is your story in 1-2 sentences. This helps in case some one says, “so what’s your story about?” You never know who might be listening, or who might ask. Practice saying your it until it rolls off your tongue and be sure to use a present, active tense. The word “was” in all of its forms has no place in this pitch. The agent/editor pitch is a slightly longer description of your story. Something you can say in 1-3 minutes (like a query) that highlights the main character, his/her goals, what stands in his/her way, as well as when/where the story takes place. Be sure the tone of the pitch matches the tone of your manuscript.
Be sure to check out Letrice’s upcoming post on what to do during the conference and Dawn’s current post on what to do after attending.
What tips, recommendations, or suggestions do you have to help conference goers prepare BEFORE hand?