You have just chosen the right conference for you. Now what? Here are a few suggestions to make your experience as smooth as possible.
1. Don’t wait to register. I know that making a deposit on the conference can hit the wallet pretty hard and you may want to put it off as long as possible, but most conferences offer reduced rates if you register in time for the early bird rates. Yay for saving money! Hurry now before the sale ends!
2. Study the conference’s website, blog and resources. In order to get the most use out of the conference, read over all the information on the conference’s website because it will help you find a workshop that is just right for you. For example, you wouldn’t accidentally want to be in a sci-fi class if all you write is historical fiction. Once you’ve found a couple of workshops that you like, research the teachers to get a little background on their writing career. Make “cheat sheet” list of the classes you want to attend and what time they occur for ease of reference. (When you begin the conference, you are going to want to know off-hand what classes you are attending because people you will meet will ask and it is easy to blank when there are so many people in the room staring at you.)
3. Find out who the agents are in your genre and research them to help you with your pitching. Researching the agents would be: reading their bio, what they represent, who they represent, reading their blog and finding out about their agency’s history. Each agency is different, so it helps to know their exact wishes/requirements in order to adjust your proposal and pitch just for them. Don’t just prepare a blanket pitch.
4. Mark down the proposal/sample chapters submission date. If you are hoping to get an appointment to see an agent, the submission date for your work to be accepted for review is usually 2-4 weeks prior the conference depending on which conference you attend. If time permits, and I hope it does, review that manuscript again before submitting it. Knowing the due dates well in advance will help you plan accordingly and not have a panic attack on getting your work in on time and it ends up being a race against the clock.
5. Go over your proposal with a magnifying glass. This is not the time for careless misteaks. If your proposal glows, they will go beyond it to read the synopsis and then, if it keeps their interest, your writing sample. This is the gateway, so please don’t rush through this part. I can’t stress it enough.
6. Create a one-sheet. A what? Yeah, that was my reaction. This newbie had no idea what one-sheet was before the conference, so allow me to help you through my blunders. A one-sheet is basically your pitch sheet and it generally includes: an image, your title, genre, word count, the dreaded hook, a brief description, your professional author photo with a brief bio and your contact information. Don’t put your house address. A P.O. Box is fine, but not a house address.
7. Make business cards. You will want to create business cards to hand out to other writers, authors, agents and editors. Have your writing information on these cards: name, phone, email, website, twitter name, any books that you have published and an updated picture of yourself. (I didn’t know that I needed to have a photo of myself, so when I was in an appointment, an agent snapped a picture of me on her phone in order to have it as a reference for her colleague who would be taking over the review process. It makes complete sense now to have an author/writer photo on a business card, but it just never crossed my mind.)
Do you have any more suggestions for first-time conference attenders?
Photo Cred: Unsplash.com