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Plan Ahead for a Writing Conference. ll Pay Off Big Time!

Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards

“Plan Ahead for a Writing Conference. It’ll Pay Off Big Time!” by Joan Y. Edwards

I hope that by reading my blog post or attending a writing 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. If it’s not a writing conference, many of these ideas can still be useful.

Planning ahead of time will help you get the most anyone could get from a conference for writers and illustrators. If you’re an illustrator, wherever it says manuscript, substitute portfolio. It’ll help you achieve your goals. Being prepared will pay off big time in learning, networking, and action to show a sincere commitment to do good things for your writing career.

Before the Conference

  1. What skill do you most want to improve? Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill.
  2. Find the website with the faculty members for your conference. Here is link from a brochure telling the 2015 SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference faculty members in case you are going or to entice you to register. It’s a great conference. I plan to be there. If you go too, I hope you’ll say, “Hello.” 
  3. 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.
  4. If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down on 3×5 note cards or on a sheet of paper 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 at the conference, you can contact them later.
  5. 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.com, or local print shop. You can also handcraft your own using your computer.
  6. Get bookmarks printed: www.VistaPrint.comwww.Gotprint.com, or local print shop. You can also make your own by hand or on your computer.
  7. Illustrators have postcards printed to display at the conference. It might even be good to send them to the art directors for the publishers who are going to be at the conference. All of them accept postcards, put them on their walls, flip through them when they’re looking for illustrators for a particular story. Do illustrations on these cards that you love because you’re going to get jobs from them.
  8. 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.
  9. Buy two pens that write just the way you like a pen to write. Put them in your pocketbook to take with you.
  10. Write a pitch for three of your manuscripts.  You can print out your pitches on 3×5 cards. If it doesn’t fit on the 3×5 index card, it’s too long. 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. (See 10 blog posts in Resources to help you get one to attract publishers and agents.
  11. 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.
  12. Check your laptop, iPad, or other digital device. Charge its battery. Purchase a portable disc drive or flash drive or thumb drive for your laptop. 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. Set a goal to give away 5, 10, or 15 cards. Ask for business cards of other people, too.

  1. 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.   Please check out my blogpost: Take These Steps before You Sign with an Agent. It might help you. Janis Silverman pointed out in her comment that you could also use the same strategies in finding a publisher.

  1. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.

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

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

  5. 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 a book inspires you, 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.

  1. 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.
  • Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.

  • 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.)

  • 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 (See my Pub Subbers posts).

    6. Marketing Goals

    a) Learn a new technology.

    b) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and/or editors. (See my Pub Subbers posts)

    c. Join Pub Subbers Yahoo Group to urge you to submit your manuscripts. Send them to an agent, editor, critique group or contest.

    d) Create a blog tour for your book.

    e) Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.

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

    g) 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. For the short pitch, similar to a logline for Screenwriting , the goal is to have 140 characters long (about 25 words) that fits in Twitter. You can use this pitch in your query, cover letter, proposal, and for a blurb on Amazon or other sites that sell your books. Your pitch is one of the most powerful tools for enticing people to buy your book.

    h) 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. Advertise it on Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, and Pinterest.

    b) Join a writer’s critique group.

    c) Create a Google Plus profile. 9 Reasons to Use Google Plus+

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

    e) Collect Images for Fun and Research – Use Pinterest.

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

    i) Visit the website of three people who shared business cards with you.  Email them. Here are possible points to include in your email. Remind them 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. Communication is the key. Savor the meeting of each new person. They could be your step up to reach your goal.


    My Pitch Blog Posts
    Here are 10 of my blog posts to help you get you pitch in shape to captivate editors, agents, and readers:

    a) A Selling Pitch Is Short with a Strong Emotional Tug
    b) How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers
    c) How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch (Logline)
    d) How to Write an Effective Selling Pitch for a Romance Novel
    e) How to Write a Pitch, Summary, and Synopsis That Sells
    f) Pitch Exercise #1 – Would you accept or reject these pitches?
    g) Pitch Exercise #2 Romance – Would You Accept or Reject These Pitches?
    h) Results of Pitch Exercise #1 – Which Pitches Did 12 Responders Accept?
    j) Which of These Best-Selling Romance Pitches Is the Best? Why?

    Four Articles to Help Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference.

    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.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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    21 Responses

    1. Joan,
      Following up with people after meeting them at a conference is one of my favorite post-conference activities. It has led to long-lasting friendships. Thanks for the helpful post.


      • Dear Linda,
        Thank you for writing. You always have something nice to say to people when you leave comments. I’ve noticed that on other people’s blogs, too. I appreciate you for reading all of my blog posts. Glad you like the idea of following up with people you meet at a conference. We first met in person at the SCBWI-Carolina conference in 2005. Hurray for meeting new people and becoming friends for a lifetime.

        Never Give Up


    2. Barbara Lunow asks; How od you do it, Joan? Every time I have a question/need regarding my writing, sure enough, you have a page /definition about my topic. This time is no exception and I am thankful for your thoughts on going to conferences. I needed them. Thank you, Barbara


      • Dear Barbara,
        Thank you for writing. I am so glad that I seemed to read your mind and wrote a blog that meets your needs. Hurray! I look forward to seeing you at either the SCBWI-Carolinas conference or the SCWW conference or both!

        Celebrate you.
        Never Give Up


    3. Joan, so very helpful! This is in perfect timing to prep us for the September SCBWI Carolinas conference! I really like how you wrote about balancing all that we are absorbing while remembering to rest our mind and bodies as well-very important!


      • Dear Kathleen,
        Thank you for writing. I am glad that this is perfect timing to prepare for the September SCBWI-Carolinas conference. I’m glad that remembering to balance all that you are absorbing and making sure you rest your mind and body seems like it will help you remain at your optimum energy level. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

        I look forward to seeing you at the conference!

        Never Give Up


    4. Reblogged this on KRISTINA STANLEY and commented:
      If you’re planning on attending a writing conference this year, this is the blog for you to read. Lots of great advice by Joan.


      • Dear Kristina,
        Thank you for writing. I really appreciate that you reblogged this article. I am honored. I hope you’re still enjoying your cross-country tour of Canada.

        Never Give Up


        • The trip is great. Lots too see. We are in BC now enjoying the beauty of the mountains. I couldn’t help reposting all the useful information. You clearly put a lot of thought into the article.


          • Dear Kristina,
            So glad your trip is going great and you’re seeing lots of wonderful things. I know Farley is enjoying himself, too, being with you and your hubby in all the beautiful places. Thanks again for reposting the article about conferences.

            Celebrate you
            Never Give Up


    5. Joan,

      These ideas are fabulous! I don’t know if I will live long enough to try them all, but this laid a plan for me. I Will get ready for the Sept. SCBWI conference in Charlotte. Thanks!




      • Dear Janis,
        Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like the conference ideas and that they are helping you design a plan that will work for you for the SCBWI-Carolinas conference in Charlotte in September. I hope to see you there.

        Love, Joan


    6. Hi, Joan. Lots of great tips and information for getting the most out of a writing conference. I’m bookmarking this post.


      • Dear Susanne,
        Thank you for writing. I’m glad you believe there are a lot of great tips and information here for getting the most out of a writing conference. I am honored that you bookmarked it.

        Celebrate you.
        Never Give Up


    7. As usual, you are a font of great ideas and inspiration, Joan! Thanks so much for this!


      • Dear Becky,
        Thank you very much for writing. I appreciate your reading my blog. I’m glad it filled you with great ideas and inspiration for the conference. I look forward to seeing you at the SCBWI-Carolinas Conference in September.

        Celebrate you.
        Never Give Up


    8. July 2015 comment: Joan, I like the pre-conference suggestion to write down questions for a presenter. I think that could come in very handy during Q&A sessions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 2015
        Dear Linda,
        Thanks for writing. I’m glad that you believe writing down questions for presenters at a conference is a good idea. I believe that presenters come to share information so they would be honored to answer your questions. Just not in the bathroom, LOL.



    9. what an amazing list. thanks for the reminders. See you there!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Carol,
        Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like my list! I look forward to seeing you at the SCBWI-Carolinas conference. It’s almost here.

        Never Give Up


    10. Tips that benefit us before, during, and after conferences. Thanks, Joan!


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