Tips for Conference Prep

Is there really a conference season? True, conferences rarely take place during the Christmas season but there seems to be a conference somewhere at any given time. And that means, authors are preparing to go to conferences all year. Here are a few perennial tips I hope you can use.

Thinking about going:

  • Do I have the funds? For a national conference you must fly to, I recommend aiming to have at least $1,000 available to cover costs. Depending on the conference, you may need more. Short on funds? Try a local conference, or attend a national conference taking place nearby.
  • Do I need an agent? I’ve talked to many authors at conferences and some were just speaking with agents, not editors. This is a great strategy if you want an agent, since agents will open the door to editors.
  • What about editors? If you’re unsure, meet with both if possible. Some publishers work directly with authors, while others work primarily or exclusively through agents. Your meetings can help you decide where your work fits.

Information needed:

  • Is the agent or editor looking for my type of manuscript? This information should be available on the conference website.
  • What do I need for my meetings? Some agents and editors do not want to see writing samples, for example. I often ask to see them. My philosophy is that if you have materials available, you can use them if needed. If not, no loss.
  1. One-sheets of all your WIPs.
  2. Writing samples.
  3. Business cards.

During the meeting:

  • I will RELAX! This can be tough! But you can talk to me. I assure you, within hours of my plane landing back home, my family asks about dinner and laundry. A mountain of clothes always awaits me, too!
  • I will be myself. If you are not, how will you know if the agent is a good fit for you?
  • I will be prepared with what I want to discuss. Next career move? Current WIP? Switching agents? It’s YOUR meeting – you tell us!

One last tip: if an agent or editor says to follow up, please do so. We want to hear from you!

Your turn:

What conference do you most highly recommend?

What tips can you offer?


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