What to Expect at a Conference

R at writers conference
Rebecca Gernon

A writing conference is not a good place to sell books unless it is held in a facility where the public frequents, such as a coffee shop, library, mall, or public building. This conference did not do that, hence low sales for everyone.

The purpose of a writers’ conference, as I see it, is to meet other writers. Before attending any conference, determine if a publisher or agent will be present. If they will be in attendance,  do a bit of research to determine if they are interested in the types of books you are writing. If not, I encourage you to go to the conference,  but there is no point wasting your time pitching your picture book to someone who only publishes romantic fiction.

If the publisher or agent is interested in the type of books you write, prepare a 1-3 minute pitch. If you don’t  have an appointment with the agent, you can make a quick pitch in the hall, elevator, or at lunch. Have a short, 1 page, error free synopsis of the book and attach your business card to the paper.  If you do not have business cards, have your name, address, phone number, and email on the top of the synopsis.

When designing cards or preparing handouts, don’t get cute, unless you are an illustrator. Keep the fonts large, 12-14, never use more than two fonts on a business cards or document, avoid script fonts as they are difficult to read, and don’t have black cards with colored writing. These too are difficult to read. As for the synopsis, use 1 inch margins, 1.5 or 2 line spacing, and check and recheck the punctuation and spelling. A sloppy synopsis does not impress an agent.

I attend conferences to meet other writers. Learn who published their books. Determine if their publisher might be good for my book. Have contacts for future speaking engagements. And most of all, to be encouraged by other writers..

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