Posted by: Glenda Bailey-Mershon | December 13, 2009

How to Work a Writing Conference

I’ve used this handout for a while in workshops. Thought I would share it here with you.

Why attend conferences?
• It’s whom you know—network, network, network!
• It’s one of the best places to meet writers you admire!
• Many conferences provide opportunities to get your work in front of editors and agents.
Before you go:
1. Focus on conferences that provide a service you need now. For example:
a. opportunities to get your manuscript in front of an editor and/or agent;
b. manuscript critiques by reputable authors, or editors;
c. chances to meet with editors or agents.
2. Check the conference brochure for the names of contacts you want to make. Most list editors, agents, and well-known writers who will be attending.
3. Study resource lists (See handout) so that you know what each editor, publisher, agent is looking for and which ones best suit your work.
4. Make a contact list, including when and where those people will be available or appearing.
5. Make appointments in advance, if the conference offers chances to meet with editors or agents.
6. Prepare your proposal or manuscripts according to the conference guidelines.
7. Make a projects sheet listing subject, length, your credentials for writing the project, and when it will be finished.
At the conference
1. Dress and act professionally.
2. Show up on time and be prepared.
3. Remember that editors and agents are people too. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated.
4. Share your projects sheet with editors or agents with whom you have appointments or with those you meet who indicate interest.
5. Do NOT push your manuscript or proposal on everyone you meet, especially at social events.
After the conference:
1. Make another contact list for editors, agents, or writing contacts with whom you want to keep in touch.
2. Write thank-you notes to those with whom you met.
3. Send follow-up letters and manuscripts to publishers, editors or agents you identified as good prospects, or who indicated interest in your work. Be sure and follow their guidelines for contacts!
For lists of conferences: (AWP)

IMPORTANT RESOURCES FOR CONTACT LISTS (Editors’ Names Change Some Years. The Market books usually come out in the summer.):

2009 Writer’s Market by Robert Brewer*
2009 Poet’s Market by Nancy Breen*
2009 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market by Lauren Mosko*
2009 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino*
* 2010 Editions should be out by August 2010

2009 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market) by Alice Pope
Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over!
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition (Paperback) by Jeff Hermann
Literary Agents: What They Do, How They Do It, and How to Find and Work with the Right One for You, Revised and Expanded by Michael Larsen

Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody can Write (Revised and Updated) by Elizabeth Lyon

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