Perhaps at this point you need only decide which one you will attend. Would a list help? You can find one at Sally Stuart's website, complete with dates and web addresses and contact information.
Let's now assume you're going, and just for fun, let's suppose you can bring only one treasure home from the conference. Which will you choose?
- a friend
- an agent
- a book-contract
I have a little experience here. The day I came back with a book-contract, my husband threw a party. When I signed with my agent, Janet Grant, he merely took me out to dinner - not because it was less special, but because only a week had passed since the party.
Long before all of that, however, the day I came home from a conference having found a brand new writer-friend, I simply emailed her. No party, no dinner out, just an email. And yet...
As great as the contract was (it was a dream-come-true), and as proud as I am that the uber-professional Janet has agreed to represent me, it is my writer friends who do the most, day by day, to encourage me, and to restore my sense of humor and perspective when things get stressful. I don't think I could be a writer without them.
So I hope when you go, you will make it your first goal to find at least one friend at the conference.
Then what will you do when you get back home?
First, attend to your correspondence. Send thank you notes to anyone who advised or helped or encouraged you. Like Bonnie said, it's all about relationships.
Then contact your new friends. Consider throwing a little party - even if it's only a happy-dance. They are worth celebrating.
Then follow up on any promises you made. Did an editor or agent ask to see more of your project? Fantastic! Study Wendy Lawton's guidelines for creating a book proposal. Get it done, and send it off.
Next, pore over all those notes you took while at the conference: new directions for your writing, marketing ideas, organizational tips. Form them into a to-do list, and get to work.
Oh, and one last thing: get some rest. You've hardly slept all week.