The Right–and the Left–Way to Prepare for Writers’ Conferences
BLOGGER: SARAH SUNDIN
Historical novelist Sarah Sundin will serve as a mentor for the Morning Mentoring Clinic, teach an Afternoon Workshop, and serve on the Critique Team at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.
THE RIGHT–AND THE LEFT–WAY TO PREPARE FOR WRITERS’ CONFERENCES
Are you a left-brained, analyzing writer? Are you a right-brained, spontaneous writer? If you’re attending a writers’ conference, engage both halves of your brain and plan the right way—and the left way.
Experience has taught me to let the left brain reign before the conference and the right brain fly free during the conference.
The Left Way
Before the conference, analyze and plan. Proper preparation allows you to get the most out of the conference and be relaxed.
- Decide which tracks and workshops to take. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and consider where you are in your career. Pick workshops to target your weaknesses or solidify your strengths.
- List the editors, agents, and authors you want to meet. Make a list of professionals you’d like to meet—at workshops, meals, etc. This can keep you focused during the flurry of a conference.
- Prepare your pitch. The most common question at a conference is, “What do you write?” Be prepared to answer with a sparkling one-to-two sentence description. Also be prepared to answer follow-up questions with more detail. But not too much detail. Really.
- Business Cards. A simple and professional way to remember the wonderful people you meet. Make sure to include your photo, email, and website.
- Prepare your One-Sheet. (Optional, and only if you’re pitching a completed project). A one-sheet is “you and your project” on a single piece of paper. A catchy tagline, one paragraph about your project, a short bio, and your contact info. Include your photo and don’t overload with graphics.
The Right Way
At the conference, work your plan but let your right brain frolic. Serendipity produces the best conference moments.
- Let your creativity play. You will learn so much and be surrounded by hundreds of creative people. Soak it in. Brainstorm. Explore new ideas.
- Veer off your list. Your list of professionals to meet is a guide, not Scripture. Try to meet others, even outside your genre. The publishing industry is fluid, and the editor from House A may be with House B next year—or have become an agent. That casual conversation over dinner might lead somewhere unexpected. And don’t forget, these people know the industry. Ask questions, absorb, and simply enjoy them as people.
- Meet new friends. Don’t overlook the person next to you at lunch. I’ve met some of my dearest friends this way. We struggled together along the pre-published road and now we’re exploring the world of publication together.
- Watch for God appointments. My best conference moments come when I set aside my plan. Pray with those who’ve been rejected, who need a boost before an appointment, or who face personal issues. Introduce people with similar interests. Listen for God’s voice about your writing and life. When you look for God at work, you’ll find Him.
I hope to see you at Mount Hermon! Please veer off your list to say hi!
Meet Sarah Sundin at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.