By Bonnie Doran
It’s conference season!
If you’re heading to a writer’s conference, you probably have appointments with editors, agents, or other professionals. Here are some tips for making the most of those fifteen minutes:
1. Arm yourself with business cards. They don’t need to be fancy. I suggest your name (duh), head shot, email address, and social media links, if the thing doesn’t get so crowded that you have to use a six-point font. Add your tagline but not your personal address for safety’s sake. If you have an agent, include his contact info. I use the back of my cards to promote my book, so consider that.
2. Print materials such as a one sheet, a one-page synopsis, and a sample chapter. Make them the best they can be.
3. Prepare your materials early. My last batch of business cards had the wrong phone number and of course, I’d ordered them at the last minute. I also had numerous fights with my printer. Don’t put yourself through that anguish.
4. Practice a short (repeat, short) blurb about your book. It helps calm the jitters.
5. Pray for them and your appointment time.
6. When you meet with that scary editor or agent, be polite. Saying hi or asking how they are won’t eat into your fifteen minutes.
7. Ask if he needs water, a bathroom break, or a moment to jot notes from the last appointment.
8. Don’t launch immediately into your spiel or thrust the one sheet that you slaved over in their face. Wait until they ask you to tell them about the novel or whether you have a sample of your writing.
9. If she’s not interested, be professional. Don’t burn your bridges by leaving in a huff.
10. Be gracious if the person is short with you. Hey, they’re human. He probably taught two workshops and had a dozen appointments before you came along. I met with one editor who said “no” and not much else. I discovered later that both of her parents were dying.
11. Send them a thank-you note after the conference. These professionals seldom get a thank you from writers, so make yourself stand out. Enclose your business card-you know, the one with your photo on it.
12. If they ask you to send a proposal or full manuscript, do it promptly.
Go prepared, pray, and be professional. You might get an invitation to send a proposal. You might not but learn who is interested in your genre. You might strike out completely. Leave it in God’s hands.
Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. She enjoys reading, cooking, knitting, solving Sudoku puzzles, and telling groan-producing puns. Her published works include six magazine articles, three short stories, 67 devotional writings, and her debut novel, Dark Biology.