Hope Clark is always welcome at Lyrical Pens. She brings her extensive experience in the writing world to the page, and today shares with us advice on how to approach a writing conference to get the most bang for our buck (and as we all know, bucks can be short for writers) a subject near and dear to our hearts.
Be sure and check out Hope's new mystery series set on Edisto Island, a place near and dear to my heart. I used to own a condo there and wish I still did. Beautiful beaches, beautiful scenery, and beautiful people. The first book has just been released.
You Signed Up For A Conference - Now What?
You paid your conference fee and reserved your motel room. You're finally going to a writers conference, but once you think about it, you aren't sure what to do once you arrive.
First, make sure this is a conference that suits your needs. If you are unpublished and seeking agents or publishers, then don't stick to a conference that focuses on craft, and vice versa. Make sure the majority of the classes fit your goals.
Second, while you're researching, dig deeper and research the teachers, agents, and so on. If you see teachers that really haven't published much, yet they’re talking about publishing, think twice. Anybody can teach. You want teachers who have experience, as well. And make sure what they are teaching is what you want to learn.
Third, participate in at least one critique or pitch session. Unless you are green as a gourd and just dipping your toe in the water, you have a piece you've been working on. Toss it into the fray and see what feedback you get. They might rip it up, but that's okay. You show you've got guts and you walk away much more educated.
Fourth, plan your agenda. Don't wait until you get there to decide what you want to attend. They publish that schedule ahead of time for a reason. Map out your days and evenings to include the questions you want to ask and the goals you hope to achieve. Get the most of your sessions.
Fifth, meet at least one new person per session. Speak to those at your table or seated around you. There's a wealth of networking opportunity available to you at a conference, and that networking might be the biggest plus you come home with. I once sat next to a self-published young woman who saw my nametag and FundsforWriters and whispered she knew nothing about money. She’d made $30K the previous year and $300K in the present, and it was scaring her.
Sixth, plan your clothes. Sounds like a woman thing, right? Wrong. You'll be sitting for long periods of time. You might have to trek up and down stairs or from one end of the motel to the other to make classes. Look sharp but make it comfy. Throw in a scarf, the boots, or those special pieces of jewelry. Give the person you meet something to remember you by.
Seventh, plan your one-liners. If you've read The Shy Writer Reborn, (http://chopeclark.com/shy-writer-reborn/) you know that I'm keen on one-liners. Plan for those expected questions someone will ask like: what do you write, what's your current story about, why are you at the conference, what have you published, etc. Come prepared with succinct answers. You'll sound smart, trust me.
Eighth, pack your writing stuff to include:
=> two copies of your WIP (just in case)
=> business cards (don't say WRITER/AUTHOR on it and avoid Vistaprint templates)
=> notebook - You'll not only take notes, but you'll dabble on your WIP as these productive ideas come to you in class. I've rewritten chapters in class as the teacher led me to a new concept.
=> name tag - They'll give you one, but consider having a permanent, professional one made. I have two: one with a magnet and one with a pin, so that they can go on anything I wear. People remember tags, and if yours is unique, they'll remember you more.
=> one-sheets - See this article on one-sheets. These are marvelous if you are pitching and speak volumes about your creativity and professionalism. http://www.fundsforwriters.com/something-to-remember-you-by/
Ninth, before the last day, take a moment to go over your notes and goals and determine what you're lacking, then approach the teacher, writer or agent while you can. Walk up and ask the question. That's why they are there, and what you paid for.
Tenth, You can do this! And you can do it better if you go prepared.
Been to a conference lately? We'd love to hear about it. Mahala