Gearing up for another conference…

by | Aug 29, 2015 | Trail of Fears, writing

Well, here we go again…I’m gearing up for another conference. Another pitch to an agent, another round of classes about marketing and craft and publishing, another round of presenters and panels, a whole new set of authors to network with…a whole new batch of things on my to do list…

bob mayer's bookRead Bob Mayer’s “Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most Out of Your Time and Money” Now, this will be my third conference. So, why am I needing a book about making the most out of a conference? Shouldn’t I know that by now? Well, I thought it would be good to see if I could learn something from an expert. Bob Mayer has been to many, many conference both as an attendee and as a presenter. He has seen it from both sides. There are definitely things I can learn from him. And I did learn as I read the book. I feel much more prepared and better organized going in. I would recommend this book to anyone. I mean, you’re paying quite a bit in some cases to go to a conference, I would spend the $2 on the kindle version of this book to get the most out of that higher price tag conference. And this one coming up is MUCH bigger than the previous two I went to.

Preparing Synopses. I plan to have synopses for my remaining un-contracted, un-published pieces so that if I run across an interested agent/editor, I can hand them one. But they can always use polishing. So that’s something I need to get to. A synopsis is basically a summary of the main storyline of your novel. And, yes, in most cases it is a spoiler in that it gives away the whole storyline including the ending. You need to be willing to give away all your secrets when you meet with an agent/editor. I have heard authors/others in the publishing industry refer to a long blurb of your book as a synopsis, but usually synopsis (or FULL synopsis) refers to this full-length, all of the story given away kind of thing.

A baseball player pitching with spin on the ball. (motion blur on ball)

Getting My Pitch Ready. I have had very successful pitching experiences thus far. And have learned a lot from them. So, not only am I applying what I learned from those agents, I am learning from the “First Timers Loop”. I’m actually going to the ACFW Conference. A really big conference. And because it is so big (read “intimidating”), they have a e-mail group called “First Timers Loop” where they share all kinds of helpful information on writing synopses, packing, pitching and whatnot. There’s even been someone willing to look at our elevator pitches and critique them. (For the non-writers or newbie writers out there, an “elevator pitch” is a 1-3 sentence pitch you can ideally deliver as you ride an elevator three floors.)

Writing a Cover Letter. This is not my strong suit. I hate cover letters. But a couple of the agents I requested appointments with require them. So, I’ll gear up and smile and trudge on, learning as I go. A cover letter goes in front of your query or writing sample when you submit to an agent either through the mail or via e-mail or, apparently, in person even. It contains information such as a pitch for your book, word count, genre, target audience, info about you (the author), and the like. Of course, with all the niceties you learned in business class – “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Whoever, Thank you for your time….Sincerely….”

packingPutting my packing list together. I am the definition of an over-packer. Seriously. Ask anyone. I’m really trying not to do that as I will be flying to Dallas and don’t want to overload my suitcase. But there is so much I have to take for the conference…like an evening dress for the Gala, a dress for the Genre dinner (dress like you stepped out of one of your books…that’s right, folks, I’m dressing in a Medieval dress, just like I stepped out of “The Lady Bornekova”).

So, what are you pitching? I am pitching “Trail of Fears” again. It is my most recent work and so the one I am most in the right head space for. Still, I plan to reread it again before the conference as I haven’t read it for some time. So, I’ll make sure to take all my stuff on “Trail of Fears”, a smile, and my winning personality 🙂

All in all, I’m pretty excited about the conference. I just need to get through the bulk of the work to get ready while still being mindful to work on “The General’s Wife” as it’s being slated for publication and I don’t want that date to slide at all. I’m in pre-edits for that book right now. So, I need to keep up. Wish me luck!!

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Sara R. Turnquist