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?