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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Conference Tip # 2 Prepare a One Sheet

A One Sheet is an important tool for pitching your manuscript. But to a newbie it is a mystery.

A One Sheet is an important tool for pitching your manuscript. But to a newbie it is a mystery.

When I attended my first conference, I didn’t have one of these. I had nothing to really pitch. No one told me about them, and I never saw one before that first conference. If you have a book to pitch, a one sheet helps showcase it and draw the attention of editors and agents.

A one sheet sometimes called a pitch sheet or a sell sheet is a page of information. The most important things about your book and you are available at a glance. It contains a blurb about your book and your bio. It can have artwork or be plain. If you aren’t good at creating flyers, I would definitely suggest keeping it simple. Use a one-sheet for both fiction and non-fiction.

Here are two links for examples. Fiction and Nonfiction.

The simplest one sheet has the book blurb, biography, and your business card stapled to the corner. (This is another important use for that business card.)

Parts of a sell sheet

Personal info: Name, address, phone, email and website and/or blog links. The most common place for this info is in the banner at the top. But it can be placed on the bottom or anywhere it is easy to see.

Hook:

A sentence or two capturing the books uniqueness. You want agents and editors to keep reading.

Blurb

Make sure the blurb is as concise and interesting as you can make it. Look at back covers on your favorite books for examples. It should be a brief description of your book. Like back cover it should draw the reader to your story, introduce main characters, and give a glimpse of the conflict. Don’t tell the whole story or ending. No questions. (You know: How will she manage to resist him?) Save those for the synopsis.

For non-fiction you want to capture the urgency of your subject matter. Again check out the back cover of books.

In both cases you don’t want the blurb to be more than a short paragraph or two. Short being the operative word.

Genre

List the genre, i.e. Mystery, Romance or Romance Mystery. For non-fiction, examples would be Contemporary Christian Living, Apologetics, or Women’s Issues.

Word Count

Fiction must be finished so the word count is specific. Whether it is 50,000 or 90,000 mention it. This lets the interested party see if your word count meets their needs.

Non-fiction may not be finished so write an estimate with a projected completion date.

Biography

A short bio listing any writing credits and a bit about yourself. Any qualifications for writing your non-fiction such as degrees, ministry, and personal experience goes here as well. Write it in third person. Again be concise and interesting. A few lines focusing on you as it relates to this manuscript.

Photo

This photo is optional. If you choose to use one, be sure your headshot is professional-looking. No selfies. Here is where you can staple your business card to your sheet instead. FYI: My one-sheet is of the simple variety.

Check and double check

If you are comfortable adding pictures or artwork, great. These can make your single sheet pop. But a plain white sheet neatly done with no grammar or punctuation errors can go further than a fancy one with poorly written content. Be sure to have at least two others check for errors. Nothing is more blaring than an obvious word misspelled or the use of their when you mean they’re. A well-done one-sheet should encourage agents, editors and publishers to ask further questions. Hopefully, one of those will be: can you send me your proposal.

But I have no book

Create a one-sheet describing your short stories, poems or articles you want to pitch. Or skip the one-sheet all together. There are other ways to pitch your work at a conference and I’ll talk about those in an upcoming post.

Here is a link further explaining a one sheet.

The Pitch-Sheet and One-Sheet http://kayedacus.com/2007/08/28/beyond-the-first-draft%E2%80%94the-pitch-sheet-and-one-sheet/

Those of you who have created one-sheets I would love to hear your tips.

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