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How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Conference


How to Prepare for Your Next Conference image Copyright 2016 Joan Y. Edwards.jpg

How to Prepare for Your Next Conference image Copyright 2016 Joan Y. Edwards

“How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Conference” by Joan Y. Edwards

Here are a few key ways to prepare for a conference that you will attend in person. I wrote this with writers and illustrators in mind. However, I believe most of the ideas would be beneficial and could be adapted to anyone attending a conference in any profession. It’s in 3 parts: before the conference, during the conference, and after the conference. I hope that by attending a conference, you’ll learn a new skill or marketing technique that inspires you to reach your goals.

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. If they have a website, read the about me. Check out their books at your local library or on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

  3. If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down on 3×5 cards and ask them at the conference during the workshops. If you don’t get a chance to ask them in person, most handouts or websites give contact information so 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 create business cards on your computer.

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

  6. Giveaways – Get postcards printed of your best illustrations or of your book covers with a selling pitch for them: www.VistaPrint.comwww.Gotprint.comwww.BCEofNC.com. You can also make bookmarks by hand or on your computer.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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. A good work attire for writers/illustrators is a pair of jeans, a shirt, and a blazer. Linda Rohrbough says that you want the editors to think you just left your computer to meet with them. Be comfortable. If you feel better being all dressed up, dress up. It’s important for you to be comfortable and feel distinguished.

  11. Check your laptop, iPad, or iPhone. Charge its battery. Purchase a portable disc drive or flash 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 to a portable drive. If you use Dropbox, you can put your manuscripts in it on your main computer. Add the Dropbox app to your iPad or other electronic device. You can see your manuscript from all devices. Check it out before you leave home.

At the Conference

1.Take notes.

Take notes using your new spiral notebook or composition book or take notes on your laptop or other device.

2.Hand out business cards.

Hand out business cards to everyone 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 10-30 cards and getting an equal number in exchange.

3.Talk to people sitting beside you in a workshop.

Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? 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 (illustrate)?”
“Do you (draw) write best in the morning or at night?”

4.  If you meet a publisher or agent, ask them questions about themselves and their projects.

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(illustrators)?”

5. Be ready to answer questions about your writing with a pitch.

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. Drink plenty of water. 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

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

12. If you a book inspires you at the workshop, buy it or ask for it at 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. After you’ve rested, read and organize your notes from each workshop.

Edit your notes and add information from your handouts. You can scan pertinent information from the handouts into your computer.  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. Write/Revise Your Writing/Illustrating Goals

After this information soaks into your mind, body, and spirit, write/revise three writing/illustrating 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.

6. Marketing Goals

a) Learn a new technology.

b) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and/or editors often.

c) Join my Pub Subbers Yahoo Group, a group to encourage you to submit your manuscript/portfolio often (monthly if possible). To join, write me and tell me why you would like to join at joanyedwards1@gmail.com. Members post successes, ask other members for help. etc. Members receive automated reminders for the weekly steps to get your work ready for submission.

Pub Subbers

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

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 critique group.that focuses on genres you write or illustrate.

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) Visit the website of three people who shared a business card with you.  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.

g) Make a list of your followers on Facebook and Twitter. When you get your book published, they will be helpful in spreading the word about your book.  Interact with at least 25 of them on a regular basis.

Resources

  1. Kristen Lamb, “Getting the Most Out of Writing Conferences:” http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/getting-the-most-out-of-writing-conferences/.
  2. 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/.
  3. Marita Littauer, “Four Keys for Writers Conference Success:” http://www.right-writing.com/conference-keys.html/.
  4. Yvonne Russell, “Getting the Most out of a Writers’ Conference:” http://www.growyourwritingbusiness.com/?p=47/.
  5. Do I Still Need Business Cards for Networking? (projecteve.com)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Each time you read one of my articles, you honor me.  I hope your success is better than you ever imagined.

Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2012-2016 Joan Y. Edwards

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12 Responses

  1. This could not have come at a better time, Joan! I am attending my very first writer’s conference in Nov. Fantastic, helpful advice! 🙂 You’ve listed so many things I would never have thought of. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Shawn,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad that my post came in time to help you get ready for your first writing conference. I hope you learn bunches at the conference and get ideas that put your work published!

      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

      • Thanks! Well, I’m getting published already with 4RV, but not sure when that book will be coming out… In the meantime, I have written two more books and am working on a third. So the more I learn about writing and the world of publishing, the better! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dear Shawn,
          Amen to that!

          Like

  2. Lots to think about and lots to do to be at our best. Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. It is always so good to hear from you. You’re welcome for my post with ideas to get you rolling toward publication and ideas at a conference.

      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

  3. i attended the Carolinas SCBWI conference last year for the first time. I was very apprehensive and nervous. Your blog about attending last year was a wonderful article to read and helped prepare me for the weekend! Thank you again for posting about this topic!

    Like

    • Dear Dy,
      Thank you for writing me and letting me know how much my article helped you prepare for the SCBWI-Carolinas Conference last year. They asked me to rewrite the information about getting ready for a conference for those attending. So this year, attendees will get some of the ideas from the SCBWI-Carolinas conference information online. I even got to put my name with it. This is the fourth year I’ve put out a post to help people get ready for a conference. I change the words and the format, the title and the image hoping to help as many people as I can to get the most out of a writing or illustrating conference. I am so glad that I helped you. If I helped one person, that makes me happy. I hope you’ve subscribed to my blog. I’d be honored to have you follow it.

      Believe in You
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

  4. I wish the writing conference in Myrtle Beach was still happening. I looked for it the last couple of years but didn’t see it. It was great to be surrounded by all that writer mojo energy! I haven’t been able to find a similar one close by ~ do you know of another one that is similar?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Julie, Thank you very much for writing. I loved the SCWW conference in Myrtle Beach. They’ve changed their name: Now it’s SCWA (South Carolina Writers Association). There are local chapters in some cities in SC. But I haven’t seen a conference listed for them. Part of the website still says the old SCWW name.
      There is a National Women’s Book Association. It has local chapters in some big cities. Shaw Guides.com (http://writing.shawguides.com/Tag/South%20Carolina) has a current listing of workshops in South Carolina. Did you come to one of my workshops at the last Myrtle Beach conference? If you write for Children, the SCBWI-Carolinas has a conference and a few workshops during the year.

      Good luck!

      Believe in You
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

      • I was in your blogging workshop at the SCWW conference. I’ll look into the National Women’s Book Association. There’s a group in Asheville, NC that has a historical fiction class I’d love to take, but it was cancelled the last time I enrolled.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dear Julie,
          I am very honored that you attended my blogging workshop! Thank you. I hope it helped you. Do you live in North Carolina or South Carolina. North Carolina has NCWriters Network. That may be the group that was sponsoring the history workshop.

          Celebrate you
          Never Give Up
          Joan

          Like

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