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5 tips to get the most out of a writer’s conference

As mentioned in my previous blog post, “How to use writing contests to reach your goals,” I’ve been entering contests this year to build up my publication credits. And, it’s starting to pay off.

So far, I’ve earned 8th place for poetry in the 2012 Writer’s Digest Annual Contest and this weekend I received more good news—I’m a finalist in two categories at an upcoming writers’ conference!

Even if I don’t win one of the top spots, being a finalist means I’ll get special recognition and an invite to attend an agent and editor gathering with the other finalists. Before the conference, I’ll be thinking about what I want to get out of the conference and put together my Action Plan.

My hubby and I do this before every seminar we attend for our business–we discuss what we want to take home from the seminar and also what we want to give to others while at the conference and after the conference.

Here’s an example of my writer’s Action Plan:

1. Before the conference, read all the agent and editor bios. Highlight the ones that take my genre.

2. Make a list of these agents and have a goal to meet and talk with each one at some point during the conference–if not during a pitch meeting, then try to sit near them at lunch or attend their class if they’re teaching one. (Try not to be too stalker-ish).

3. If my writing partner, Carly, is able to attend the conference, plan meetings with her for brainstorming, writing, etc.

4. At every opportunity introduce myself to other writers and ask them what they write. Practice pitching with them, share my blog, and ask them if they have a website or blog. Goal: meet 8 to 10 (or more) new people a day.

5. Before I leave for the conference, create a new contact list in my database and type in each agent and editor’s name that I pitch and the result of the session. You can also use a word document or a google doc for this but set it up before you leave! I’m still kicking myself because I lost my folder with all the business cards and notes from a major conference I attended last year. (Since the folder was lost during our recent remodel, can I say, “My house ate it?”)

Once I have my Action Plan together, I’ll bring the list to the conference with me to make sure I stay on track.

For great advice on how to prepare for a writers’ conference and really get your money’s worth, check out “Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most of Your Time and Money,” by authors Bob Mayer and Jennifer Talty.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congratulations!

    June 12, 2012
  2. ACE BAKER #

    Hey, Carol–I don’t know you, but I KNOW you. I’m Ace (A. Charles) Baker, and it seems that every contest I’ve managed to break through in during the past year, you have too. At SIWC, I managed to eke out the first place prize; you were second, meaning it was a tossup for the judges between the two of us. In the Writer’s Digest Contest, I managed to earn 4th and you received 8th (we both earned the same prizes–smile), but that meant we both made top ten out of 2300 entries! Now, at the PNWA contest, before I clicked on the list of the 8 finalists, I made a prediction–I would see your name there…and it WAS! We seem to be on a similar path somehow this year…any interest in a collaborative chapbook project? I have a few ideas, and I realize you might too. Let me know if your life is too chaotic or if the idea of working together on a book of poetry at all appeals to you. You can reach me at

    June 12, 2012
    • Very cool, Ace. If you’ll be at the conference, let’s meet! I’ll email you beforehand. My life is pretty hectic until then. 🙂

      June 12, 2012
      • ACE BAKER #

        Sounds great…but…I doubt I’ll make it. I have a surgery scheduled for the 18th (deviated septum and a bone spur), so I think I’ll still be recovering…be sure to tell OUR story though…it just gets curiouser and curiouser… hehe

        June 12, 2012
      • Ok, let’s connect after your surgery and the conference! Good luck!

        June 12, 2012

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