Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preparing for a Writers Conference

The past few days I’ve been preparing for the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference this weekend. What goes into preparing for a conference? In my world, it’s this stuff:

Business Cards. I finally created business cards where my job title is “Writer.” I love seeing that. And to promote the Fiction City brand, the top of the business card uses the same image that’s at the top of this blog. Details on my business card include email, phone, blog website and twitter page.

Business Attire. Since I consider this a business event, I’m going business casual all the way. And because the weather is lovely, that means skirts and dressy sandals. While I’m excited to wear warm-weather clothes again, my look will still be professional and conservative. Check out this post on the SCWW blog and read the comments to see agent Scott Eagan’s confirmation that yes, agents to pay attention to how you use your wardrobe to present yourself.

Knowing the Faculty. Thanks to blogs, I already know a lot of stuff about much of the faculty. The great roster of agents, editors and authors is what attracted me to this conference. I signed up for agent pitches and manuscript critiques and could select my top three choices for each, but I won’t know who I’m matched with until I arrive. Still, I’ve been researching the reading interests, recent sales, and background of each agent so I’m prepared to talk business or fun no matter who I’m paired with.

Practicing my Pitch. I am ready to tell anyone and everyone what my book is about in one to three short sentences. I worked on my logline, and have it memorized and ready to discuss at a moment’s notice. I also think I’m able to rattle it off without sounding rehearsed. I’ve identified a few key verbs I know I need to hit, but I can mix it up depending on the situation I’m in – pitch session, elevator ride, or buffet line.

Sessions Selected. I’ve reviewed the schedule and already know which sessions I want to take. In some timeslots, it’s a clear choice. At others, there are three sessions I want to go to. I’m arriving Thursday night and Friday is an extra day of intensive sessions. During this extra time I hope to ask around and get to know more about each presenter to narrow down which session will be most helpful to me. But, just like I did when I went to conferences back in my business days (for free--sigh!), I have backup sessions ready to dart off to if the first session I chose just isn’t doing the trick.

I’m so excited to spend a few days surrounded by writers and other people who dig books as much as I do. My goal is to listen, learn and make new friends. And if I can squeeze in a quick walk on the beach, that’s even better.


  1. I just wanted to thank you for this post (I found it through twitter). I"m going to the SDSU Writer's Conference in January and I'm already stressing about how to prepare so thanks for these tips. I will definitely be applying them.

  2. Hi Shannon, glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Since I hadn't completed this novel until recently (or have I?) I hadn't thought about conferences. Thanks for posting your thoughts on preparation. Let us know how it worked for you. And good luck!

  4. It was great meeting you this weekend, Lisa! Good luck with your novel :)

  5. Great to meet you too Michelle! Hope your pitch sessions went well!