by Patricia S. Baker
Each year, thousands of aspiring writers flock to writers’ conferences bearing suitcases, manuscripts, and high hopes for enhancing their writing careers. One of them might be you! Given that a considerable emotional and financial investment has been put into this endeavor, how can you optimize your chances for a successful experience? Here are 10 tips.
Find the Right Fit
Carefully research and prayerfully consider which of the many available conferences is a fit for your particular writing genre. Network with writers from your writers’ group who have attended conferences, or visit http://writing.shawguides.com/ for a list of conferences nationwide. Try to choose a conference that schedules critique appointments with editors or agents who are interested in the type of writing you do.
Some conferences schedule appointments based on registration number. Attendees who register early are likely to get their first choice of editors, agents, or authors to meet with. The past two years I have been the first registrant simply by visiting a conference Web site early and printing off the registration form, rather than waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
Visit the conference Web site
Not only is browsing the conference Web site helpful in getting a jump on the registration process, but you can glean valuable information to prepare for the conference. Many times the site will have links to market needs or overworked topics. These can influence your decision as to what you’ll present during your appointments. It is also helpful if the site has pictures of faculty members, in case you want to familiarize yourself with them before attending.
Polish your Manuscripts
Polish your best work to take to the conference. Whether you are writing articles, stories, poetry, or book proposals, use the weeks before the conference to make your work shine. Have your writers’ group critique your work, or meet with another writer for feedback. Be sure it is typed neatly, free from spelling errors, and double-spaced; pack it carefully in a folder or manuscript box for travel.
Also prepare orally. Memorize a hook of no more than three sentences that describes what makes your work unique, and be prepared to share it with editors or agents you meet at the conference.
Design and Print Business Cards
Business cards can add a professional touch to your presentation during appointments and be a networking tool during the conference. Be sure to include your email address and Web address if applicable. These cards are also handy for staying in touch with new friends and acquaintances after the conference….
©2005 by Patricia S. Baker
*Excerpt, first printed in Christian Communicator, (February 2006).