Ten Point Checklist for Conference Attendees

conference word cloudThis week I’ll be attending Write to Publish, the writer’s conference I’ve attended every June for over a decade. Today I’ve decided to post a conference checklist. Thought you’d find it helpful.

  • Business Cards

Take 50. You may not use them all but you won’t run out. Give them to the people you have appointments with and exchange them with those you network with at the conference.check list-tiny

 

  • One sheets (sell sheets) of the novels or books you are pitching. One sheet per book. You can also create a sell sheet of article ideas you have. Present these at your appointments with an editor.

 

  • Clips- photo copies of your published work. This gives editors a taste of your writing experience. Or have copies of your completed short stories, articles and devotionals to share during your appointment if requested. Samples of your best work can lead to a request for your stuff.

    clip and samples-2

    I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

 

 

  • Fresh notebook or laptop. Whether you prefer to take notes with pen and paper or on your PC be sure you have enough paper, extra pens and the power cord for your laptop. If you have a larger laptop like me, you might prefer to leave it at home or in your room. It gets heavy and cumbersome to tote. I can check emails etc. on my phone so I opt for pen and paper.

 

 

  • Pitch cheat sheet. I hate memorizing a pitch. I get frustrated and nervous. A cheat sheet helps me remember my pitch just before my appointment. I may not say it word for word but at least it’s fresh in my mind.

 

  • Pictures and names of agents, publishers and editors I want to meet. I may not get an appointment with them but mealtime is a great time to pitch your stuff. If I have a picture I might recognize them in the cafeteria or in the hall.

 

  • Proposals and manuscripts are optional. Most editors and agents want an email version. Having a copy or three is good if you plan on getting input from freelancers or participating in critique sessions. Have copies of the first chapter of your book. If an agent or editor marks it up or takes a copy, you have more clean copies.

 

  • Clothes for conference. Being sure you have all your outfits and all their components is important. I once forgot to change out of my sports bra. A pink sports bra under dress clothes was …I made an emergency run to a nearby Walmart to buy a new bra. Another year I bought a sweatshirt because the temp dropped. Be prepare for any contingency. Wear comfortable shoes if the conference you’re attending is on a large campus. Blisters and limping are just oh so fun when you’re trying to get all you can from a conference. Lots of people wear tennis shoes at these events. So, leave your classy uncomfortable footwear at home. If your conference has a formal dinner then pack dress shoes for that event only.

    black open toe

    Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home.

 

  • Double check your spending budget. There will be lots of books and CDs available for purchase. Decide what you absolutely must have. If it exceeds your budget copy down the title and purchases them later.

 

  • Be sure to have registration confirmation, hotel confirmation and if you’re flying tickets, boarding passes and proper ID.

 

  • Books for sale. This is my first year to bring my novel for the sales table. Only bring a reasonable amount. If you’re flying you’ll be limited unless you shipped them ahead. Even though the conference has hundreds of attendees they are not going to all buy your book. You will be in competition with lots of other authors along with myriads of craft books. Better to run out than haul boxes back home. Have lots of bookmarks or postcards available so interested readers can take them home and order your book later.secret-charades-front-cover

 

What items would you add to this list?

 

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A Writer’s Conference Connection

Writer’s Conferences are for me one of the keys to success as a writer. Author Kathy Collard Miller’s testimony echoes that truth. Welcome Kathy and thanks for sharing.

0073_Miller

I attended my first writers conference in 1980 when I’d only had one article and one short story published. I didn’t know another writer in the world and had no clue what to do about the book idea I had. I was shocked when the editors there treated me like someone important. I made writer friends and one gal only lived 15 minutes away from me. She mentored me and almost literally taught me to write. I returned to that writers conference year after year, grew in my writing skills, and connected with editors who opened doors. Now I have over 50 non-fiction books published and it all started at that writers conference in 1980. I’m so grateful the Lord led me there.

About Kathy:

Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and loves to write and speak. She has been married for 46 years to Larry, is the mom of 2 and grandmother of 2. She has over 50 books published and has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Her latest book is in her Daughters of the King Bible study series: Whispers of My Heart: a women’s Bible study book on prayer. www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Facebook: Kathy Collard Miller Author
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak

Newest book:
Whispers of My Heart: Daughters of the King Bible study series

http://amzn.to/2ksLALx Whispers of My Heart(1)

 

 

www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Facebook: Kathy Collard Miller Author
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak

Newest book:
Whispers of My Heart: Daughters of the King Bible study series

http://amzn.to/2ksLALx

 

 

 

What’s something you learned at a conference that has made a difference in your writing today?

Why Serious Writers Attend Conferences

networkng5

Lunch with Steve Barclift from Kregel Publishing

It’s conference season. And for any serious writer, it’s time to compose those proposals and get those pitches ready. If a yearly writer’s conference isn’t in your budget it should be. Conference expenses are tax-deductible and are a more economical education than a college degree.

Face to Face

There are opportunities to meet other writers and share information and wisdom. This is one place you can have a face to face with a publisher who would not bother to look at your proposal unless you have an agent. And it is also the place to acquire an agent.

Bob H

Bob Hostetler was both a general session speaker and a workshop leader for the 2013 WTP Conference. He was on my must attend list of workshop choices that year.

Classes

The classes are varied and there is something for everyone. The publishing world is constantly changing so there is always something new to learn. Each year there are different speakers and class focuses giving writers a chance to expand their writing knowledge.

20130607_170332

Arthur Cynthia Ruchti often leads a critique session. She is always kind and inspiring.

Critiques

Manuscript critiques and appoints with published writers are available. You don’t know what you don’t know or where your writing is weak until you’ve had your pages marked up by a professional.

Grow your network

The conference experience and the continuing education you attain can help you grow your platform and writing credits faster than going it alone.

20130607_102903(1)

Editor Susan Baganz, is a great one to connect with if you are an introvert.

Introverts connecting

I’m told most writers are introverts. (Except for me. 😊 ) Introverts come out of their shell when they are around others who understand them. Fiction writers find kindred spirits who love to talk to their characters. Non-fiction writers interact with others passionate to get the word out regarding things they feel called to write.

Writing is a solitary task. It requires hours alone creating each day. Conferences force us to spend time with like-minded people to refuel and refresh.

Rowena Kuo, Acquistion Editor of Light House Publishing of the Carolinas and I developed a great friendshipover the years that eventual lead to my current contract.always looks casual but classy.

Rowena Kuo is an editor I developed a friendship with over my years of attending conferences eventually leading to my novel publication.

Best reasons

The best connection for future book sales and freelance opportunities are at these events. And the bookstore is jammed full of craft books and CDS. You’ll find the speaker’s books and other conferences work for sale.

Fun, fellowship and education all rolled into one.

Whether you attend a large or small conference the value gained as a writer is priceless.

More to come

Next week I’ll begin a series of post from other writers sharing their best, humorous and ah-ha moments in their conference experiences. You won’t want to miss them.

My favorite conference is Write To Publish click her for more details.

Tell me why you love to attend conferences.

secret-charades-front-cover

Click here to purchase

Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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Three Ways Your Life Experience Can Be Shared With The World

 

Book heart-2

Your true story doesn’t have to be written by you. Check out a professional.

Often I hear from people who learn I’m a writer that they are going to write a book someday. Many people may profess it, but few actually do it. I’ve read a variety of blogs and heard speakers tell of people sharing how everyone says their life should be a book and their story needs to be told to the world. Those bloggers and speakers share helpful hints with their audience on how to determine whether your message should be dispensed in book form.

Because most of my posts for the next two months are going to be reposts of my ten conference tips, I thought this subject blended well. Because at every conference there are people with a passion to get their story told but no idea how. They hope to find an agent or publisher to agree to publish it.

Is this a book of my heart?

There are many things that have happened in my life—true miracles. There are tragedies as well. None of which I have felt at the present are a book of my heart. Some of those experiences take form in some of my characters in my fictional world however. But if one or more of your life experiences burns in your heart to be told, then I’ll help you explore ways to accomplish this.

Scenario one

Let’s pretend for the sake of this blog post that I have had a wondrous experience, and every time I share it people insist I need to write a book.  I’ve never written anything so I find the idea daunting. Yet, the thought takes root in my heart and won’t let go.

Let’s assume I know a writer. And I share my story and my desire to write a book. They smile politely and tell me to take some writing classes to learn the craft. I’m a little offended that they should suggest such a thing. After all, this story needs to be told. I don’t have time to waste on classes. Besides don’t publishers fix your mistakes?

So I attend a writer’s conference with the intent of finding an agent or publisher. I have a handwritten copy of my story and determination on my side. Okay, so maybe I have a typed copy, but it is single spaced. Perhaps I have a copy in 16-point font, single spaced on pink paper all neatly bound in a colorful cover.  A few copies even. You see where I am going with this.  No publisher or agent takes these kind of presentations seriously. There are industry standards which I will not discuss here.

Even though I strike out achieving my original goal, I make a connection. A writer hears my story and suggests I get a ghost writer. She connects me up with a fellow-writer. During a meeting he decides what I need is a writing coach to help bring my story to light.

Another scenario

This time I am joined at my conference lunch table by a magazine editor. I share my story and my battle plan for getting it published. He asks, “Have you ever consider writing an article about your experience.”

“But I want to write a book.” I declare. I am thinking a magazine article would not have the same impact.

“Our magazine has a circulation of 100,000. I’d love to publish your story.”

“Wow! I had no idea.”

 

Heart microphone-2

Sharing your story to groups of people may be another way to get a publishers attention.

Still another scenario

During a break I am trying to decide what class to take when I overhear someone singing the praises of the Speaker class. My curiosity is piqued and I attend. There I discover a new possibility. Speaking in various venues. I learn how to get the word out about the story I want to share. I immediately order all CDs.

 

My point

Book form may not be the best way to get the story of your heart before your desired audience. At least not at first. A magazine has large readership and gives your story a great chance to be read by many more than you may get in book sales. The article or series of articles could get you the attention of a publisher and be the outline for a book. Again, learning the craft of article writing is a must.

Perhaps sharing your story in a speaker’s format is more effective. Some stories are best shared orally. These days it’s easy to place stuff on You Tube or create a podcast to share your story.

A writing coach or ghost writer might be the best way to get your message in book form quickly. Otherwise it is imperative to learn the craft of writing well. And that can take years.

Ghost writer pic-2

Ghost writers and writing coaches may be just the ticket to getting your story told in a compelling way.

Be aware that coaches and ghost writers do this for a living and will expect to be paid. It is worth every penny to give your story its best chance at sales. Many wonderful true stories which have soared to the best seller list were written for the individual by professional writers. Ninety Minutes in Heaven is a great example.

If you have a book in your heart, perhaps these tips will help you decide how you want to share it with the world.

 

I’d love to hear any questions from those who want to get their story out there. And if you’ve successfully shared your life experience to the masses, please tell us about it.

 

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It’s a Struggle to Keep My Writing Torch Lit

Don't let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Don’t let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Like most conference attendees, my heart and mind are on fire with all I’ve learned and the encouragement I received. My I AM A WRITER torch shines so brightly in my soul that it overwhelms every other thought. My world is changed. Sigh!!! Then I drop my things inside my front door—reality hit hard. My mother has called several times. My grandchildren are needy, and there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be done.

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.  Image compliments of morguefile.com

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.
Image compliments of morguefile.com

I want time to decompress. But I spend my first day back with my elderly parents. Calming anxieties, attending to needs and cheering them up. Back home I am hugging grandbabies and cuddling granddaughters while their parents attended to things they need to do. I have a few days to organize myself before I go back to work.

If I let it, my day can return to business as usual. Well, I choose not to. I have projects to complete and new ones to start and this blog to get out on time. I will lock myself in my room and work. I’ll ignore the phone and the knocks on my door by family members. (Well, most of the time.)

I spent a lot of time and hard earned money to make connections toward publication at that conference. I’ve learned valuable things I need to start implementing right away. And I’ve discovered more friends who get my writer’s mind. Yet, it is easy to let my other life, the one full of housecleaning, job responsibilities and grandbabies squash the zeal, bury the plans and deconstruct my conviction that I am a writer.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your  I AM A WRITER flame burning bright. Image from free microsoft clipart.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your I AM A WRITER flame burning bright.
Image from free microsoft clipart.

Over the years I’ve started with baby steps. Scheduling time, even if it’s only a few hours a week to write. Taking reading material with me when I am waiting, pulling out a notebook to write. Even taking my laptop on long trips. I have my email connected to my phone. I can delete unimportant emails during break time at work. I rise extra early to write. Sometimes if my brain is functioning I write at night. Whatever it takes, I will not let life extinguish my writing flame.

The funny thing is—perhaps funny is not the right word—I always had excuses over the years as to why I couldn’t write. I’d lay it aside when life changes came. I’ve slowed my steps toward publication on many occasions. It was simply easier than pressing on. Now, however, I am now busier than I have ever been, yet I am writing more than I ever have. And truly experiencing what it feels like to be a writer.

I will do what it takes to feed my writing flame. How about you?

 

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Conference Tips: Double Checking and Final Thoughts

Double checking to be sure I haven't forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Double checking to be sure I haven’t forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Today is the first day of the Write-To-Publish Conference. I have spent the last few days making sure I have done everything I encouraged you all to do in my ten tips. I feel I’m as ready to as I can be to get full value out of this week’s conference.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. My tote bag contains all the tools I’ll need. Wait! I need to do a double check. Help me look through my bag to be sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

I’ve removed everything and we can repack it again following my previous conference tip posts.

  1. I have my special business card holder. Let’s look inside. I didn’t forget to put the business cards in there. (Hey, it’s happened before.)
  2. Multiple copies of my sell-sheets for my two novels. Check.
  3. Chapters and summaries (I opted to leave my proposals at home based on my research and experience at previous conferences.) Check.
  4. I have marked the workshops and classes I want to attend.
  5. I’ve done my research and know who I want an appointment with to pitch my stuff.
  6. I have printed copies of my writing clips from magazines, blog posts and e-zines.
  7. I’ve print off a variety of samples. Some I want to pitch and others just because you never know what you wish you’d brought along.
  8. I reviewed the dress code and made sure my wardrobe is appropriate. I’ve broken in my new shoes ahead of time, (Don’t want blisters.)
  9. My notepad and several pens are now safely tucked in my tote as well.
  10. I’ve practiced my pitches (well, you all know I hate doing them.) to try and make them sound smooth and natural.

So, looks like I’m ready. Wait I need to add an umbrella or rain parka; the weather is so unpredictable in Northern Illinois this time of year. I’ve made sure any bills due while I’m away are paid. All instructions for family left behind clearly defined. My phone charger added to my tote. If I were not commuting, I would be double checking my luggage and adding my laptop and its adapter to my pile to haul to the conference. I might opt to take it later in the week anyway.

Eyeballing everything one last time. Looks like I’m ready to go. I’m stoked and nervous even though this is my seventh year attending a conference. Next week I’ll post some highlights and new things I’ve learned.

If you are attending the Write to Publish Conference be sure to look me up. I love to connect with my readers.

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