Recently, a new friend asked me about writer’s conferences. She has never been to one, and feels extremely intimidated about the whole process. After talking with her, I thought I would share some of my same thoughts about the whole process with you. Today, I want to focus on “Preparing for a Writing Conference.”
1) What do you need? – Before you sign up for a conference, check to be sure they offer what meets your needs. If, like my friend, this will be your first conference you might want to start by attending a smaller conference or even one offered online. Crowds can be overwhelming to someone already feeling like they are out of their element. Also, price can be a concerning factor. If you’re on a limited budget, or are wary of unexpected fees, these smaller and online courses can be cheaper and clear cut on expenses. Curious? Check out the Jambalaya Writer’s Conference on March 4th: http://mytpl.org/jwc/ The price is only $35 to attend, and includes a lunch and snacks. A similar package is offered by the Bayou Writers Group at their October conference: http://bayouwritersgroup.com/
2) Research the offerings – If you are trying to pitch a specific genre, be cetain the agents and editors attending are looking for that genre. Some of them may be kind enough to suggest the correct contact through their agency for your genre, but many of them will be aggravated that you’re wasting their time. If you’re looking to learn more about a specific genre or skill, be sure the conference you are considering has speakers and authors attending that will focus on what you need. Most conference pages will provide a complete list of speakers, lesson topics, and pitch sessions offered as the time draws near.
3) Realistic Expectations – very seldom will anyone be offered a signing contract at a conference. If your goal in attending is education, you’ll walk away a lot happier. If you’re pitching an idea, be sure your work is as close to finished as you can get it.
4) Ask Questions – this is a learning experience so don’t be afraid to prepare questions to ask authors, agents, and editors what they think. Most of them want to hear your ideas, and are willing to share and explore career goals with you.
5) Be professional – 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. While I’m not suggesting this is the only way to get a contract, it will show them you are serious about your work. And most importantly, don’t whine or become angry if they don’t seem interested in your creation. There are a million reasons why your manuscript or idea doesn’t work for them that may have nothing to do with the quality of your skill.
If you look nice, act relatively normal, and come prepared, you’ll leave a good impression. If you view attending the conference as a fun learning experience, you’ll seldom be disappointed.
For more tips on Working with Agents, Editors, and Publishers or Retreats, Conferences, and Classes:When is Your Story Ready?
8 Ways to Annoy Literary Agents
7 Steps to Preparing Your One Sheet
Pad Your Resume and Wallets by Writing for Small Markets
6 Tests Before Publication
When and Where to Publish Short Stories
Then There Were Five
7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor
5 of the Worst Author Traits
Resume' for the Writer
Defining High Concept
Interview With an Agent
Speed Dating Pitch Session