Writing Tips and Tricks

7 Steps to Rock that Writer’s Conference

You waltz into that writer’s conference—your first writer’s conference. Agents and editors in all their glory roam the halls among the mere mortals. Their eyes flash with the power of life and death. This is your chance—fame, or another story for editors to cackle over evilly as they make fun of all writers while drinking children’s tears.

You have no idea what you’re doing. But that’s okay! Because I have the tips you need to succeed.

 

  1. Dress to impress.

Editors are judging your clothing. How committed are you to this story? Are you dressed as your MC? Your villain? Don’t talk to an editor if you are not in full elven maiden garb.

 

2. Provide enough information.

Bring in your entire manuscript in a binder. Also bring all of your drafts, character sketches, concept art, and full-sized models.

 

3. Network outside of the pitch session.

Is there an editor or agent in the elevator? Fantastic! Block the door while giving a twenty-minute speech about your novel.

 

4. Be friendly.

If you want to be relatable, you should share embarrassing stories in your one-on-one. You should talk about the deepest and most emotional parts of your life. You should show pictures of your cat.

 

5. Show that you’ve done your research.

Show the editor a picture of her cat. Taken by you from her front porch.

 

6. Don’t talk too much.

Use your eyes to communicate. Use Morse code with your eyebrows. Stare at the agent and will the story into her mind.

 

7. Follow up.

Visit the editor’s house with cookies and demand answers.

 

Okay, hopefully you’ve realized by now that this is all TERRIBLE advice. However, if you just read the headers, this is actually GOOD advice. Let me demonstrate.

 

  1. Dress to impress.

Dress professionally, as if this is a job interview. Editors and agents are looking for a business partnership. Business professionals don’t wear fandom tees.

 

2. Provide enough information.

When pitching, don’t give the cliffhanger back-cover blurb explanation. Tell agents and editors the full plot line. On the other hand, don’t provide too much information. You can email the proposal if they ask for it. No one wants to lug home a stack of proposals ten miles high.

 

3. Network outside of the pitch session.

Talk to people at lunch. Talk about the industry, genre interests, favorite books, or other safe topics. Do NOT pitch outside of a pitch session unless the conversation naturally segues into a discussion about your writing.

 

4. Be friendly.

Agents and editors are people, and they (usually) don’t bite. Be nice even if you get nothing out of it. In fact, be respectful to everyone. Besides being a good human, it can be really awkward when that young woman you wrote off as a wide-eyed wannabe writer turns out to be the person you’re pitching to that afternoon.

 

5. Show that you’ve done your research.

Don’t pitch a genre the agent doesn’t represent. But don’t be a creep. Don’t ask about their kid’s soccer game last week. That’s next-level stalkerish.

 

6. Don’t talk too much.

Allow the editor or agent to give feedback or ask questions. If his eyes are glazing over, move on.

 

7. Follow up.

If they request your manuscript, send it in a timely fashion.

 

After working at the North Carolina Christian Writer’s Conference last weekend with Cyle Young, I saw a lot of examples of people who really knew how to make a conference great for themselves and everyone else. In the end, the conference was excellent because people came together to help one another succeed in a tough industry. Don’t stress. Enjoy the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of nerds just like you.

2 thoughts on “7 Steps to Rock that Writer’s Conference”

  1. Very good advice! Fun trick with repeating the headers, too. I’ll try to apply some of this advice next time I get a chance, but I’m still working on that full-sized spacewhale model …

    Like

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