A lot of my writer friends right now are talking about conferences that they have selected to attend in 2010. Some are brand new to the conference circuit; others are veterans. However you might classify yourself, it never hurts to take time to prepare. Here are a few steps you’ll want to take beforehand:
1. Research the publishers, editors, and authors who will be present. If you have a finished manuscript or proposal you want to talk with an editor or publisher about, make sure that the people you will meet at the conference are the right ones for you to talk with and that the publisher is looking for what you have to offer. Spending a few minutes browsing the publishers’ websites will help you determine if that house is right for you.
If you know that your book will be perfect for a particular publisher, but the only editor represented by that publisher works with a different line of books (fiction vs. nonfiction, for instance), talk to that person anyway. Editors will typically know enough to say whether your manuscript should be forwarded to another department within their house.
Take advantage of authors who are there as well. Authors who are on faculty will have enough experience with writing and publishing to help tweak your work and offer good advice.
2. Don’t bring your entire manuscript or proposal. No one will have the time at the conference to read through a lengthy manuscript. Instead bring a sample of that work and a one-sheet proposal to give an editor an idea of what your book is about.
3. Prepare your conference schedule. As the conference draws near, the conference director will typically have a workshop schedule finalized. Take time to review the schedule, deciding on which workshops you want to attend and which editors you want to meet with. Often, if you can’t get an appointment with the editor you need to see, that person may be teaching a class you can attend. You may be able to schedule an informal time to meet with him then.
With conferences, a little preparation goes a long way to help you feel confident when approaching editors. For information on how to enjoy your conference experience, please see my recent article at the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference blog. For other general information on attending writers’ conferences, you can view a previous post here.