Make Your Next Writing Conference Pay Off Big Time


“Make Your Next Writing Conference Pay Off Big Time” by Joan Y. Edwards

I’ve heard of several conferences coming up in March and April 2012. I hope this will help make your next writing conference pay off big time for you. It’s in 3 parts: Before the Conference, During the Conference, and After the Conference. Of course, if it’s an online conference, you won’t need some of the items mentioned.

I hope that by reading my blog post or attending a conference, you’ll learn a writing skill or technique to inspire you to believe in yourself as a writer or illustrator and never give up.

Before the Conference

1. What skill do you most want to improve? Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill.

2. Visit the webpages of at least three of the presenters that interest you. Check out their books at the library or on www.Amazon.com.

3. If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down and ask them at the conference. Most websites list a contact page with an email address, in case you don’t get to ask them then, you can write and ask them later.

4. Get business cards with your name, address, phone number, email address, website, and blog. Many people put an image and link to their published books on the back. Use  www.VistaPrint.comwww.Gotprint.comwww.BCEofNC.com, or local print shop. You can also handcraft your own on your computer.

5. Get bookmarks printed: www.VistaPrint.comwww.Gotprint.comwww.BCEofNC.com. You can also handcraft your own by hand or on your computer.

6. Buy a new spiral notebook with a bright colorful design or a composition book with a black and white cover. This way all of your notes are in one place. You can put it in front of your computer when you get home, and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.

7. Buy two pens that write just the way you like a pen to write. Put them in your pocketbook to take with you.

8. Write a pitch for three of your manuscripts. Print out your pitches on 3×5 cards, 4×6 inch cards, or plain 8.5 x 11 printing paper. Carry two copies of each pitch with you to the conference. Put one copy in a folder and the other in your pocketbook. Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact. Memorize it.

9. Take comfortable clothing to wear in your favorite colors to keep your spirits high. Take a sweater or blazer, in case the air conditioning is too cool for your inner thermostat. If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer. Jeans, a shirt, and a blazer are good work attire for writers. Linda Rohrbough says that you want the editors to think you just left your computer to meet with them.

10. Check your laptop. Charge its battery. Purchase a portable disc drive or flash drive or thumb drive. Most of them are USB port compatible. Copy your full manuscripts of the Works in Progress and other pertinent information you may need for the conference.

At the Conference

1. Take notes using your new spiral notebook or composition book or take notes on your laptop or other device. When you get home, edit your notes and add information from your handouts. You can copy or scan pertinent information from the handouts into a computer.

2. Hand out business cards to everyone you with whom you talk. Ask for their business cards, too. This will give you resources to check after the conference. The more you do this, the more comfortable and natural it will be for you. Make a goal of handing out at least 5, 10, 15, or 20 cards.

3. Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Plan to talk to the people who sit beside you in the workshops. Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with them. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:

“What are you writing?”
“Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”
“How do you find time to write?”
“Do you write best in the morning or at night?”

4.  If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:

“What is your favorite project right now?”
“How do you know when a book is right for you?”
“What’s your advice for writers?”

5.  After your question for an editor or agent, there is a great possibility he/she will ask you, “What kind of writing do you do?” This is a perfect lead in for your pitch. Hold your head high. Look the editor/agent in the eye. Pretend he’s your best friend and tell him your pitch.

6. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.

7. Get plenty of sleep.

8. Eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins. This will keep you alert and focused.

9. Enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can.

10. List twenty things for which you are thankful each morning before you get out of bed.

11. Thank the presenters and the organizers for what you liked about the conference. Make suggestions for improvements.

12. If you a book inspires you at the workshop, buy it or order it from your public library.

After the Conference

1. Sleep, if you’re tired. Accept yourself and others as you are. Focus on what you want. Be thankful for what you have. Be grateful for where you are. Put the fun back into your writing.

2. Read and organize your notes from each workshop. Write at least three major things you learned from each workshop. You can write down more details if you want.

3. Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.

4. After this information soaks into your mind, body, and spirit, write/revise three writing goals using the skills and information you learned. (Be patient with yourself.)

5. Writing Skill/Genre Goals

a) Read ten books in your chosen genre and three books on the craft of writing and/or illustrating.

b) Revise your favorite manuscript and submit it to an editor or agent on the third Friday of the month (PubSub3rdFri).

6. Marketing Goals

a) Learn a new technology.

b) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and/or editors on a regular basis. (See my Pub Sub 3rd Fri blog posts)

c) Join Pub Subbers by sending an email to me at joanyedwards1@gmail.com with your first and last name and why you’d like to be a Pub Subber. Then I’ll send you an invitation! Fun, fun, fun! Members post successes, ask other members for help. etc. The group has automated reminders for the weekly steps to get your work ready for submission.

d)Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.

e) Prepare a proposal to present a workshop for a writing conference.

f) Prepare a pitch for a manuscript. Go from a page summary and then focus on the words to hook readers. Keep shortening your pitch: 200-100-50-25 words. The ultimate goal is a pitch that is 140 characters long (approximately 25 words) that fits in Twitter. If you have all these different lengths, you will have a pitch to use in your cover letter, proposal, and for the rave blurbs for the back cover of your book. Your pitch is the magnetic tool that will entice people to buy your book.

g) Prepare a post card, business card, bookmark, signature for email to promote you and your writing. Use your book titles and pitch blurbs.

7. Networking Goals

a) Create a website and/or blog.

b) Join a writer’s critique group.

c) Give book presentations/workshops for schools and organizations

d) Create an author/illustrator page on Facebook and post news of your publishing journey.

e) Create a Twitter Account. Twitter your blog posts and your publishing news.

f) Create a TweetDeck account to better organize Twitter, Facebook, and/or Linked-In.

g) Create a Glog (Big Poster) on Glogster: http://www.glogster.com

g) Visit the website of three people who gave you a business card.  Email them. Here are possible points to include in your email. Remind them of how you enjoyed talking with them. Thank them for sharing a resource. Congratulate them on their manuscript or book. Compliment them for being brave if they read their story at open mike. Thank them for giving you a new way to look at a problem.

Below are four other articles to help you get the most out of a writing conference.

Kristen Lamb, “Getting the Most Out of Writing Conferences:” http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/getting-the-most-out-of-writing-conferences/.

Margo L. Dill, “Writers Conferences: Five Reasons Why You Should Go NOW, and How to Get the Most for Your Money:” http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/13-FE-MargoDill.html/.

Marita Littauer, “Four Keys for Writers Conference Success:” http://www.right-writing.com/conference-keys.html/.

Yvonne Russell, “Getting the Most out of a Writers’ Conference:” http://www.growyourwritingbusiness.com/?p=47/.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it leads you to have more faith in yourself. I hope you experience success in every way imaginable.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011-2014 Joan Y. Edwards

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12 Responses

  1. Joan,

    This post is helpful before, during, and after a conference. I was wondering if you would consider writing a blog post about the different companies you mentioned here that produce business cards, bookmarks, and other promotional products. I’ve used VistaPrint but I am not familiar with the others. Thanks!

    • Dear Linda, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you think this post is helpful. Thanks for the tip about adding more information or a different post about the different companies I mentioned that produce business cards, bookmarks, and other promotional products. Hmm. You’ve got me thinking. Thanks.

      Celebrate Your Caring about Others; Your Sensitivity Adds to Your Writing That Hits the Heartstrings of America. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

  2. Very helpful tips. Thank you, Joan!

    • Dear Mary, Thank you for writing. I’m glad these tips are helpful to you. You’re very welcome for the blog post. I’ve seen some of your writing. You have a way of writing that lets us in on what it’s like to be disadvantaged. It helps us understand and relate to others better. It shows how we are alike and how we are different. How we are alike pulls us together. Thank you.

      Joan Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

  3. Once again, a very informative lesson! Thanks, Joan,this is valuable information! I have some work to do before my next conference! ;-)

    • Dear Ann, Thanks for writing. You are very welcome. I’m glad you think this blog post contains valuable information. Getting ready for your next conference will be fun. I’ve seen your writing. You get to the core of the problems many middle grade students have today and add to it that each person has something that makes him different from all the others. Keep on writing! Good luck with all your publishing endeavors!

      Joan Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

  4. What a great post! And so timely! I’ll be heading to the NESCBWI conference in April – only the second conference I’ve attended – and this is just what I need to help me be prepared! Thanks Joan!

    • Dear Lisa,
      Thank you for writing. I’m really glad that this post was timely for you. If you do just 3 of the things on my list, you will be whistling when you get there. You will be comfortable and ready to soak in all the new information and the new people. It is going to be wonderful for you.
      Do something fun for you!
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  5. Joan, I have to tell you, you already have inspired me with your post about 10 reasons to use the Word Press blog! I did get on that and so far, love it and have been inspired….I am really new at all of this but was supposed to go ahead and do something like this. Just didn’t know where to go or how to start, and You my dear, helped me to choose from options I had open to me…. So Thank YOU!!!!

    I will continue to follow your blog, I have enjoyed what I have read so far. I just hope I made the right choice with Word press with the subjects I have been writing about…. Hopefully, like you the subjects will be pertinent in some way to someone!

    Blessings, Love, and Light,
    JoAnna

    • Dear JoAnna,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad that I inspired you to start your WordPress blog. Thanks for letting me know. I visited it. It looks great!! I am so proud of you. I have heard this saying, “When you’re ready to learn, the teacher will come.” I’m glad that you have enjoyed reading my blog.
      That is music to my ears.
      Do something to celebrate your love for living!
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  6. Joan, absolutely super summary of what to do to prepare for a conference. I’m going to add this, as well as the articles you mention, to the Writers Resources section on my website. Many, many thanks.

    • Dear Margaret, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you think this blog about a writing conference is a super summary. Thanks for adding it and other articles I mention to your website. You’re very welcome. Do something fun for you!

      Joan Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com http://www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com

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