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How to Get the Most from the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference 2011


“How to Get the Most from the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference 2011” by Joan Y. Edwards

I revamped my earlier blog posts about this topic, I added links to the presenters at the SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference 2011.  It has three parts: before, during, and after the conference.

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.

Amanda Brice, attorney and author: http://amandabrice.net/

Amy Lennex, editor with Sleeping Bear Press: http://www.sleepingbearpress.com/

Angie Smibert, award-winning author: http://www.angiesmibert.com/blog/

Beth Revis, award-winning author: http://www.bethrevis.com/

Bettina Restrepo, award-winning author: http://bettinarestrepo.com/

Carol Baldwin, author/educator: http://maupinhouse.com/index.php/authors/carol-baldwin.html

Chris Roerden, free lance editor: http://www.writersinfo.info/about.html

Curtis Sponsler, media consultant: http://www.animill.com/_downloads/Sponsler-Curtis_GraphicArtist-resume_06.pdf

David Diaz, Caldecott award winning illustrator: http://www.amazon.com/Smoky-Night-Caldecott-Medal-Book/dp/0152699546

Jenn Bailey, social media expert: http://www.thesociallites.com/jennbailey/

John Claude Bemis, award-winning author: http://johnclaudebemis.com/

Josh Adams, agent with Adams Literary Agency: http://www.adamsliterary.com/

Katy Kelly, award-winning author http://katykellyauthor.com/katy_kelly_lucyrose_melonhead/Katy_Kelly_Home_Page.html

Lucy Ruth Cummins,  Associate Art Director with Simon & Schuster BFYR: http://jacketknack.blogspot.com/2009/11/interview-with-lucy-cummins-at-simon.html

Mallory Kass, editor and author with Scholastic: http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1316275

Mary Kate Castellani, editor with Bloomsbury Children’s Books: http://writergirl.myartsite.com/2009/10/20/paying-it-foward-day-2/

Marietta Zacker with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency: http://nancygallt.com/whoweare.html

Rachel Orr, Agent with Prospect Agency: http://www.prospectagency.com/zoo.html

Susan Uhlig, award-winning author: http://www.susanuhlig.com/

Sheila O’Connor, award-winning author: http://www.sheilaoconnor.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.com, www.Gotprint.com, www.BCEofNC.com, or local print shop. You can also handcraft your own on your computer.

5. Get bookmarks printed: www.VistaPrint.com, www.Gotprint.com, www.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. Read my blog: “How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch (Logline). You can 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) Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.

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

e) 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.

f) 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.

Please leave a comment. I value your opinion.

***Please sign up for an email subscription from the left hand column. If you’re the 50th subscriber, you will win a choice of a free paperback copy of Flip Flap Floodle or a 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. Forty-Six people have signed up, so far. Just 4 more. Thank you to everyone who has signed up for an email subscription.

***If you revise a story during August, let me know in a comment on this blog post.  I’ll put your name in a drawing to win a gift certificate for a free ebook copy of Flip Flap Floodle for Kindle or Nook or $2.99 off the paperback edition.  Just say, “I gave rebirth to a new version of my story, give title, on August ___, 2011.” I will announce the winner on September 1, 2011.

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

6 Responses

  1. Joan,

    I like that you put links for the presenters on this blog post. It means a lot to me that I can click to read about each one, especially since I don’t plan to attend in person this year. This can benefit those who attend and even those who don’t.

    Linda A.

    Like

    • Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad that you think that the links I put for the presenters will benefit those who go to the conference and those who can’t go.
      Do something to celebrate your life today!
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  2. This will be my first conference, and I fully admit to being completely clueless. Thank you for posting this! I will stop fretting over what to wear now and I now know what to work on between now and then. Yay!

    -Jen.

    Like

    • Dear Jen,
      Thanks for writing. You made me feel good to know that I’ve helped you stop fretting. It’s simply amazing the things we can find to worry about, isn’t it? Maybe I could write a blog about that…LOL. If you see me at the conference, I hope you’ll come up and introduce yourself.
      Do something good to celebrate you and who you are!
      Joan Y. Edwards
      http://www.joanyedwards.com

      Like

  3. Thanks SO very much for this post. Great information!

    This will be my first conference and I am excited, anxious, the whole bowl of soup.

    Hope to meet you there,
    Jean Ramsden

    Like

    • Dear Jean,
      You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure to share the information with you. I’ll be wearing black slacks, a turquoise shirt, and a jacket with turqoise, black, purple and lime green rectangles. Focus on what you want to learn and enjoy meeting people. Take notes and have fun.
      Enjoy the conference.
      Joan Y. Edwards
      http://www.joanyedwards.com

      Like

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