Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Off to the Conference We go

In case you missed our announcement on Monday, our second annual 'Audience With an Agent' contest opened this week! Check out the guidelines under our 'Resources' tab and get your submission to us by April 15th.

Not all writers conferences are created equal. They usually fill specific needs. A day or local conference is generally a place where writers reconnect with old friends, make new ones and learn a new trick or two. These are usually relaxing times that reassure us we are not alone in the universe and send us home rejuvenated. The longer conferences draw writers from across the nation and go a step further by incorporating face-time with editors and agents and offering manuscript critiques. It's a wonderful opportunity to take our writing to the next level, but it can be a bit intimidating. Being prepared and professional will build confidence. Here are some ideas that may help:

1.
Prepare a one-sheet. A one-sheet is a page used to present your book or series idea. One-sheets aren't mandatory, but they serve as useful reminders for brain-weary editors and agents who hit overload by the end of the conference. One-sheets contain your contact information, a professional-quality photo of you (not too large), a brief bio including any writing credits you may have, a one-line pitch and a longer paragraph briefly outlining the book. They are easy to create on programs such as Microsoft Publisher which offers templates to choose from. Nothing flashy - 12 point Times New Roman with the book title in bold. If you have a blog or website, include them in your bio.

2.
Print business cards. There are several quality on-line companies that offer excellent rates for business cards. Simply upload your own photo or choose one of their icons, fill in the template and pick from a variety of colors and fonts (make sure they're easy to read). You'll need to decide whether or not you wish to include your street address. A post office box is best if you have one. Vistaprint is one good, reliable site. Allow several weeks for delivery unless you're willing to pay for a rush order. Printing your own cards is another alternative. Just don't go to the conference empty-handed. Also, keep a few of your business cards tucked behind your name badge in the plastic holder so they are available when you need them.

3.
Find out about appropriate attire. I know I'm preaching to the choir, so forgive me for stating the obvious, but you will only get one chance to make a first impression. Business casual is usually the norm at conferences, although a camp setting may be a bit more laid back. I'm not suggesting that you go out and buy a new wardrobe, but you want to be taken seriously. You've worked hard to get to this point, and you want to send the message that you are a professional. An editor who is interested in your writing needs the assurance that you would represent them well in public and to the media. It's about the whole package.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and are able to plug into some conferences this year. Which ones look promising to you?

10 comments:

Sharon K. Souza said...

Excellent points, Debbie. The days spent at an intensive conference can be overwhelming and exhausting. Do all you can to mitigate that by being prepared. Not only does it help you, but it's appreciated by the editors and agents you meet with.

Judy Gann said...

Great tips, Debbie. I've found that the best conferences are when I don't go with a carved-in-stone agenda, but rather allow the Lord to accomplish amazing things according to His plan.

Are any of you Novel Matters ladies attending Mount Hermon?

Patti Hill said...

The one-page is an EXCELLENT writing exercise. You must be concise to get all that information, plus a stunning picture of yourself on one, and only one, sheet. Good luck, all!

I hope you're all entering the Audience with an Agent contest. I love reading your work.

Patti Hill said...

The one-page is an EXCELLENT writing exercise. You must be concise to get all that information, plus a stunning picture of yourself on one, and only one, sheet. Good luck, all!

I hope you're all entering the Audience with an Agent contest. I love reading your work.

Patti Hill said...

Judy, I missed your question. Note to self: work on reading comprehension. Anyway, sadly no, I won't be at Mt. Hermon this year. I had to make tough decisions about where to invest in my writing, and I chose the Festival of Faith and Writing. I plan on stalking many talented writers there. But not in the bathroom. I promise. Unless...no, I promise. They might need help. No. I definitely will not stalk anyone, especially male writers, in the bathroom.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Patti, you are so funny.

Judy, I won't be able to attend this year either, but I hope to make it next year.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Unfortunately, I won't be at Mount Hermon this year, either. It's a wonderful conference in a gorgeous setting. *Sigh*

If you're going, Judy, I hope you have a fantastic time and the Lord surprises you!

Judy Gann said...

I can't believe you're all deserting me. :-) Mount Hermon won't be the same without you ladies.

But I'm looking forward to taking Lauraine Snelling's fiction track.

LeAnne Hardy said...

Patti, I LOVE the Festival of Faith and Writing. I feel totally comfortable there as an Evangelical, but it stretches me far more than most Christian conferences. Unfortunately, I have a conflict this year. Enjoy!

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Judy, the first time I went to Mount Hermon I took a fiction track with Lauraine. It was so much fun! Wish I could be there. :(