Writers Conference Prep

I’m attending the Surrey International Writer’s Conference this week. I’m partly nervous because this is the first one I’ve attended, and I won’t know anyone. Mostly I’m excited.

Now, I’m one of those people that enjoys making lists. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Stuff to bring:

  • Novel sample pages
  • Business cards
  • Notebook and pen
  • Laptop
  • Mints
  • Tissues
  • Money for the book fair (oooh yes…)

Did I miss anything?

I’m booked for an agent appointment at the conference. I’ve been putting off thinking about the novel pitch, but I’m running out of time.

“Think of it as a job interview. You’ve always done well at those.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to talking about my novel I tend to freeze up and something like this comes out…

“Um, it’s about this girl, and this guy (he’s a magician)… and they end up uh… saving the world.”

Yeah, that explains everything, right? I just hope my mouth cooperates and I don’t babble on inanely. In the meantime, I really have to figure out a pitch that is, at the very least, interpretable by humans.

Have you attended a writer’s conference in the past? Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear!

20 Comments to “Writers Conference Prep”

  1. I’ve never been to a conference or really had to pitch, but based on your list it sounds like you are prepping well. Maybe add Chapstick?

    I also recommend writing a 1-4 sentence summary of your story, a 1-2 minute summary of your story, and a 1-2 page summary of your story. The first two are for discussions with anyone (other writers, agents, editors, etc.) depending on how long you have to talk. The third would be a handout more than a talking point, helpful to have on hand like the novel sample pages.

    I think Nathan Bransford and the Guide to Literary Agents blog would both have more helpful tips, if you are looking for professional advice.

    Good luck!

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Chapstick, I was just thinking about that after I published this post! πŸ™‚ Good reminder!

      Hmm, I’m still working on revisions, so the book isn’t 100% ready to pitch and the summary might change. I’m not sure if that matters… I’ll probably try to get some kind of summary done though, just in case.

    2. Eric W

      Agreed, and to add to that, when selling a story you should also be ready to answer fun questions like:

      – What is your story’s premise?
      – What is your story’s theme?
      – What is your story’s controlling idea?

      But that probably won’t come up at a writer’s conference nearly as often as being asked for a plot summary — though I really wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to one.

      Anyways, have fun!!!

  2. Yeah, never been to a writer’s conference before… more’s the pity. Never could afford the combination of time/money.

    That said, a few basic networking tips, similar to what’s suggested by Kristan: have your “Elevator Speech”/”30-second introduction” ready to go. It’s basically the 1-4 sentence summary Kristan mentioned. Except, you’ll need two: one for you and one for you book.

    Good luck!

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Thanks Stephen! This is in lieu of a vacation this year. Thankfully it’s within commuting distance, so I can save on the hotel bill.

      1 – 4 sentences. Sounds like it should be a cinch but it’s not LOL

  3. Not attended one yet–but you’ve already inspired me!

    Do keep us updated on how did it go.

    And I wish you all the luck in the world with the agent, do GREAT! πŸ™‚


  4. I hope you write about your experience. I think you’ll have a lot of fun – I’ve heard from others that they learned a lot in just a few days.

    I’ve never been to a conference because of the cost. There is one that comes to AZ every other year – it’s back in 2012, so I plan to go to that one since it’s in town. Too much money for airfare, hotel, registration, etc.

    P.S. I’d bring ibuprofin in case the stress triggers a massive headache πŸ™‚

  5. Wow, a writers’ conference!!! Yay, sounds great!

    I have never been to one. But you inspired me to look them up on the internet…(later that same night…)

    Wow! You are the same way as me. I fumble up when I meet people and they ask me what the book’s about too. Is it a writer thing? “It’s about these kids in an underwater civilization that go on a spy mission.” I cringe when I have to say it. It sounds just so stupid! My advice: Sound confident, even though you’re probably DYING!!! inside. lol πŸ™‚

    Oh, and you might want to bring the whole ms. too! Just in case you get hit by serendipity.

    Best wishes!

      1. Glad you think so. I just wish more agents/editors will feel the same way! (If you see any agents at the conference looking for my kind of project, hows about sending them my way… :D)

  6. Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
    I’ve been only to Screenwriting conferences and only once did I book a meeting with a manager, because it was 15 minutes instead of the usual 5. I was very nervous, but having 15 minutes instead of 5 helped me relax. The guys did request my script, but then didn’t offer representation (and even became screenwriters themselves).
    Only bit of advice: be yourself. You’ll do great. Keeping fingers crossed for you! πŸ™‚
    Best wishes

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