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How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Writing Conference

“How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Writing Conference” by Joan Y. Edwards

I enjoy going to writers conventions and workshops. I learn many things and become invigorated and ready to write.

I have attended the SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conferences every year since 2004.  In spring 2010,  I went to the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  In summer 2010 I went to the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop.

Whether your writing conference is one day, two days, three days, or more you can make plans to get the most out of it. By reading my blog, I hope it will help you get the most out of your next writing conference. Perhaps you will learn a skill or technique that will inspire you believe in yourself as a writer and never give up on your writing.

What skill are you most wanting to improve? Make sure you attend that workshop.

1. Hand out business cards with your name, address, phone number, website and/or blog, and email address.  If you don’t have any business cards, type up the information on your computer, print them out, cut them out, and hand them out to as many people as it seems comfortable to you, then add 10 more.

2. Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Plan to talk to at least 3 people who sit beside you in a workshop at the conference.  Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with everyone with whom you talk. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:

“What are you writing?”

“How do you find time to write?”

“Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”

“Do you write best in the morning or at night?”

3a. If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, just like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:

“What is your favorite project right now?”

“How do you know when a book is right for you?”

“What’s your advice for writers?”

3b. After you ask your question of an editor or agent, there’s a great possibility that you’ll be asked, “What kind of writing do you do?” This is a perfect lead in for your pitch.  Read my blog: “How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch (Logline). You can print out your pitches on 3×5 cards, 4×6 inch cards, or plain 8.5 x 11 printing paper. Carry them with you. Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact.

Pitch Part 1 (Regular Pitch or Logline 1)
My name is ______________________. (Meeting a real agent or editor can do strange things to your speaking ability.)
My genre for this book is _______________________________. My word count is _______________________________________.
This is a story about________________________________(Hero) who is ___________________________________(Flaw)
Whose goal (Life Changing Event) is ____________________________________________________________
Opposed by ______________________________________________________________________________(Opponent)
and helped by __________________________________________________________________________________ (Ally)
in the battle between _____________________________________________________________________________________ and __________________________________.

Pitch Part 2 (Log Line 2 – Linda Rohrbough’s invention that she shared at Pike’s Peak Writer’s Convention in 2010)
Linda Rohrbough says to add a second log line to further pull the editor/agents into your book.

Tell the character who changes and how they change (the character arc).

Pitch Part 3

The universal theme answers the question: What did the main character learn from striving for this goal? What did the main character learn from his struggle, his journey to reach this goal? ______________________________________. The Universal theme of this story is ____________________________________ )

4. Take a spiral notebook with a bright colorful design or a composition book with a black and white cover. This way all of your notes are in one place. You can put it in front of your computer when you get home and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.

5. If your laptop has a good battery life, you can take your laptop and take notes on it. Then when you get home, you can edit your notes and add information from your handouts.

6. Wear comfortable clothing. Take a sweater or blazer, in case the air conditioning makes the conference room too cool for your inner thermostat.  Jeans and a shirt and a blazer are good work attire for writers. If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer.

7. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.

8. Get plenty of sleep.

9. Eat fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

10. Enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can.

11. Write a litany of things for which you are thankful each morning before you begin your day.

12. Thank the presenters and the organizers for what you like about the conference. Make suggestions for change to make it more beneficial to writers.

13. Lucky 13. If you find a book that inspires you at the workshop, buy it if the price meets your budget. If not, wait until you get home and order it from the library or check to see if there’s an inexpensive used copy you can buy from Amazon or other source.

Below are articles with other ideas for gleaning the most out of a writing conference:

1. Kristen Lamb, “Getting the Most Out of Writing Conferences:” http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/getting-the-most-out-of-writing-conferences/

2. Margo L. Dill, “Writers Conferences: Five Reasons Why You Should Go NOW, and How to Get the Most for Your Money:” http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/13-FE-MargoDill.html

3. Marita Littauer, “Four Keys for Writers Conference Success:” http://www.right-writing.com/conference-keys.html

Please share your comments, questions, and/or resources below. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading my blog. I wrote this September 21, 2010. I updated it October 23, 2019.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
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