Conference Preparation Checklist

Donna Cooner 2 Sunday, May 15, 2011
This month is all about conferences, so I've prepared a checklist to help you get ready to maximize every moment of an upcoming writing conference. Many of our past posts will help, so I'm going to link to them here, all in one place. I'm using the August SCBWI national conference as my example, but you can certainly adapt to any venue.

______1. Prepare your Manuscript Pages. Many conference give the opportunity for personal manuscript reviews from agents, editors, and/or experienced authors. Although it may cost an additional fee, it's a wonderful opportunity to receive feedback and make important connections. Follow the submission guidelines carefully and make sure your pages are the best they can be. I'm always amazed at how many people met their first agent or editor through this experience. Submissions for the SCBWI conference are due June 8 (YIKES! That's right around the corner!):
1) For Picture Books and Poetry: Submit only the first TEN (10) pages of your manuscript,

2)For Middle Grade, Young Adult, Non-Fiction and Chapter books: Submit only the first TEN (10) pages, even if it cuts off mid-chapter, plus a ONE-page, double-spaced synopsis.

_____ 2. Prepare a Synopsis. This is on my "To Do" list for the week. I'm not crazy about this, but Talia's given some great advice about this in past postings.

_____ 3. Prepare your "elevator pitch." Although an individual manuscript consultation with an editor or agent will certainly require this, I'm always surprised at how often I'm asked at a conference, "What is your book about?" Presenting your project in an engaging, concise way will be useful to many different audiences throughout the whole conference. You might even actually use it in the elevator!

_____ 4. Read Keynote Authors' Books. Authors are amazing people, and hearing their personal stories is enriched by reading their books ahead of time. Sometimes there is a wonderful confirmation of already "knowing" someone by reading what they've written before meeting them in person. Other times, I'm completely surprised by the "in-person" author. Either way, it adds depth to every presentation I hear. This year I'm challenging myself to read at least one book from every keynote author--all genres. The keynote authors for this year's SCBWI conference are: Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, Bruce Coville, John Green, Norton Juster, Donna Jo Napoli, Mary Pope Osborne, Gary Paulsen, Jerry Pinkney, Jon Scieszka and David Small.

_____ 5. Research editors and agents Connecting with agents and editors is, of course, one of the major goals of attending a conference. To maximize that meeting, I recommend some homework ahead of time. Check out websites of agencies and publishing houses. Try to place your own work in a setting where it seems to fit. Once you're at the conference, there are many opportunities to interact with authors about their own experiences with agents and publishers. There's nothing better than observing how others are treated, personally and professionally, to see if that's a person you want to work with in the future.

____ 6. Get ready to HAVE FUN! Pajama parties, coffee dates, dinner out with new friends, famous author meetings, inspiring talks, challenging conversations, and more...


You really make me wish I were going to a conference!

Glad you keep mentioning loglines/elevator pitches. I keep actually writing them and trying them out on my husband when he's not expecting it. I've avoided the logline for too long.

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