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Four more tips to get the most from a writer’s conference

In an earlier post, “5 tips to get the most out of a writer’s conference” I describe the Action Plan I put together before each writer’s conference or event I attend.

I used to go bumbling into conferences with no clue what I wanted to get out of them except to learn as much about the craft of writing as I could.

Things are different now that I have a better grasp of my craft. Now, I think about things like networking, interviewing successful authors, and getting feedback on my work.

What if you have a manuscript ready to pitch? In addition to the tips in the post above, I also recommend the following to make sure you present your best self:

You don’t need to bring your manuscript since most agents you speak with will tell you what and how much to send to them after the conference. Trust me, none of them want to drag home extra suitcases full of manuscripts.

Besides having your manuscript in good shape, you will also want to have ready:

1.  A logline or premise sentence for your manuscript. See my post, “A premise sentence can keep your writing on track.” You can use this as your 30-second elevator pitch if you happen to see an agent or editor at lunch or in the hallway and they have a moment to listen. I always ask if I can give them my 30-second pitch before launching in. And, I would never ever try to pitch them in the restroom! Even agents are human and need a break once in a while. (Yes, I’ve seen someone do this and the agent was not amused).

2.  A short pitch to accompany your premise sentence. At some conferences, you’ll have a scheduled sit-down appointment with an agent or two. This is your opportunity to shine. Be calm but enthusiastic about your project. Expand on your premise sentence with only the most pertinent information. When you craft your pitch, think of it as poetry–every word counts.

For more ideas on how to construct an effective pitch see Carly’s post: “Pitching your manuscript: How does your book compare to others?” and my post, “Is your elevator pitch missing this key component?

3. A one-page synopsis of your book. Why? You probably won’t end up showing it to an agent at the conference, but it’s an invaluable tool to help YOU wrap your head around the meat and bones of your story. Because you’ve written your synopsis, if an agent or editor asks you questions about your story,  you’ll be able to speak succinctly about it– which is much better than bumbling around trying to find the right words. When you send in your work, some agents will ask for a synopsis as well as the first pages of the manuscript, so it’s best to be prepared.

4. A list of questions.  If you get an opportunity to speak to an agent, editor, or successful author who is presenting at the conference, have your list of questions ready. At the upcoming Surrey International Writers’ Conference I have an appointment with a published author to go over the first three pages of my novel. So far, I’ve written down three questions that I’d like her opinion on. Even if you don’t have an appointment like this, still be prepared. You never know who you might strike up a conversation with. While your in this writer-rich environment, take advantage of the opportunity to brainstorm with other writers if you get the chance. For example, not sure about your book title? Ask other writers what they think.

Do you have a Writer’s Conference Action Plan?

One Comment Post a comment
  1. These are super tips. My writing foundation organizes a conference every Spring, so I will certainly be utilizing these for myself and our attendees.

    October 22, 2013

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