That crackling sound you hear are my nerves fraying as I try desperately not to think of the critique session I have tomorrow at 1pm with an agent from the Lower 48. Doug Grad, from the Doug Grad Literary Agency in New York, is one of the speakers at the conference giving out critiques. Fifteen whole minutes of his time will be spent with me – going over my submission, pointing out errors he sees and hopefully giving me advice on how to make it better. I’m both excited and terribly nervous.
I am excited about this conference as a whole though, it should be rather fun. The speakers are from a wide range of publishing, editing and writing fields, the days are packed with interesting topics, and I get breakfast and lunch both days, plus a dinner with the faculty on Saturday. It’ll be fun! And, bonus point, a few of my writing friends are attending, as well.
I know a plethora of these How To – Conference sites exist, but I’m adding mine to the mix anyway.
Here’s how I got ready for the conference:
1 – Research Then Sign Up Early As Possible
As soon as I heard about this I signed up for it, but not before I researched who would be speaking at the conference (anyone interesting?), where it would be held (local or out of state?), what opportunities would arise during the conference (critique session, dinners?). It’s important to go to the conferences to learn and network, but it’s also important to know what you’re getting yourself into. If the speakers aren’t what you’re aiming towards, save your money and choose a different one. If the price is too steep, try looking around your state, there could be a local conference you could go for instead.
2 – Start Getting Ready At Least Two Days Before The Conference (more if leaving town)
I say at least two days before the conference because of recent events that occurred in my household. I decided to start preparing yesterday (Thursday), and my sibling was shocked I did so. Well, it’s a good thing I started early because I had some hitches along the way. For one, the author cards I created took forever to actually make and my computer decided to crash just as I was going to click ‘print’ (excellent timing on its part, I must say). And then the printer decided that it wouldn’t print color correctly (also spectacular, though on its behalf the printer did spit out the business cards relatively okay). But, because I started early, I didn’t have to worry so much about since I still had today to fix those issues.
3 – Bring All The Supplies You’ll Need
This goes hand in hand with getting prepared early, but you’d be surprised how many people forgot a pen the last conference I went to. My solution? Bring two! If you lose one, you’ll still have a backup. Or, if you’re like me, you won’t lose either and have one to give away to some poor soul who lost his or her only writing device.
Chose between a computer and notepad (I’m going old school and taking a notepad). There’s going to be a lot of moving around during the conference, and you don’t want to be lugging around a ton of stuff (think, those bulky backpacks from – my generation’s – high school).
Slip your business cards in an area of easy grabbing and make sure there’s a secure place to put the cards you receive, too.
Get written material together – usually a sample chapter, a one-sheet description and a synopsis are all handy to have – and put them in a good protector (like a folder or envelope or such). I have a portfolio to stick everything in, including the pens and my notebook, so all of my stuff is in the same place (thanks UAA Scholar!).
4 – Get Ready To Network
Yes, network, talk to people. If you’re shy or introverted, try coming up with topics beforehand or practicing your one-liners. If you’re outgoing and boisterous, try to tone down and really listen to what these people have to say. Don’t shove your pitch onto anyone, but if someone asks what you’re writing or what your story is about, tell them.
5 – Have Fun
The most important step in all of this – through the listening to speakers and the networking and the opportunities – is to have a good time. No, it’s not a vacation. This isn’t really the time to be sipping wine and thinking about a beach, but it is a time to mingle with fellow writers and talk shop, to see a glimpse into the professionals of the publishing world. If you’re a writer then that in itself should be fun. I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Overall, just do your best to be prepared and have a good time.
(And try not to be buzzing with nerves when you talk to the agent critiquing your work for fifteen whole minutes… as I am trying not to be.)