Find out how to prepare for a Writing Conference.
At the end of the month, I’ll be attending the Writer’s Digest Writing Conference in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve never been to a Writing Conference before and the idea of being in a room full of writers, editors and agents is intimidating to say the least. Attending such event is an incredible opportunity to grow as a writer, educate yourself on the publishing industry, and network to get your book in front of the right people. Ultimately, everyone wants to make this experience enjoyable and profitable.
So, how can we prepare to make this experience the best it can be? I found quite a few interesting articles, videos and comments among other things that can be applicable to any Writing Conference.
Here is a summary of the best advice I found:
Know what you’re getting yourself into.
– First, you need to read how other writers before you tackled this experience and what they can offer as recommendations. There are many interesting stories worth reading or you can also read this article, which is a cliff note version of the best information researched/found.
– Study the conference’s schedule and research who’s going to attend to ensure it’s something beneficial to you. Look up every featured guest speaker/writer, editor and agent and inform yourself on who they are and what they do. Knowing your audience will help you understand what you can expect, what you can learn from them, and ultimately, what’s in it for you.
– Don’t hesitate to make connections prior to the event, such as social media. Going to an event with writers who are in the same boat as you, or attending a scheduled meeting with an editor or agent makes a remarkable difference.
Don’t be afraid to participate.
– Go to as many workshops as possible. Writing Conferences, such as this one, offers several workshop or panels at once, so you need to carefully select the topic that you can benefit the most from. Where you’re at with your book will greatly influence which session to select. Read the summary of the workshop to make sure it is right for YOU. These sessions are incredibly valuable as a writer and will help you reach the next level in your writing. Do not forget to bring a notepad and a pen or laptop to take notes.
– Be nice/social. Don’t forget to smile and start conversations when possible. You never know who you’ll meet, and this is a great way to connect with other writers, editors and agents. Never be pushy and know when to stop. Be enthusiastic, but not fake, and it goes without saying, please don’t become a stalker. ☺
– Participate in social events, if provided. This is a great way to network, mingle and share your experiences. Face- to-face interactions are so much better. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy being with other writers, but remind yourself you own your business so don’t get sidetracked.
– Attend a book signing. It’s a great way to learn from bestselling authors what worked for them and get any kind of advice.
Get your story out there, when appropriate.
– This is by far one of the most important aspects: Get your pitch ready (truly work on it). Bring your manuscript if you have one finished, but only give it to an agent, if requested. Ask how they prefer to be contacted and do exactly as they say. Once you pitched your book, feel free to ask a few questions, but don’t monopolize their time or attention. Again, this is good practice for you and even if you don’t sign with an agent, you may get some valuable advice to make your pitch better.
– Be able to summarize your book in one line (aka log line). I’m not going to lie, this is actually quite difficult. After all the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing a book, summarizing it in one line has its challenges. Sit down and think about it. If you had to communicate your book in one line – what would you say?
– Only pitch to agents in your genre, but if you do pitch to someone outside of your genre don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Ask them questions like, “How can I improve?” “How do you like the idea?” You never know who can bring you thoughtful guidance.
– Don’t set yourself up for failure. Have the right expectations before going into this and keep in mind this is good practice and not necessarily about signing an agent right away.
– If an agent shows interest, ask them the right questions, such as: Who do you represent? Which publishers have you done deals with in the past six months? How many deals have you done? What are your strengths as an agent? These are also good follow-up questions.
– Be/look professional without overdoing it. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
– Bring a business card with a photo – people remember faces more than names.
After the conference, make sure to follow up with agents when appropriate/requested. Writing conferences are a fantastic way to connect with the publishing world, get agents’ attention and their point of views, and also share your experience with other writers. Many writers are introverts and this networking part seems overwhelming, but remember to enjoy your time there by sharing stories, smiling and exchanging ideas. More importantly, go there for learn. Be open-minded and ready to welcome any and all ideas that may be different from yours.