First Timer Primer
1. Dress in layers. Keep a sweater with you as some of the meeting rooms apparently are also used for hanging meat during the night. And, you don’t have to dress in a business suit the whole time. Dress comfortably in clothes that flatter you in a professional way and save the suit for your one-on-ones.
2. Have business cards on you at all times. You will be given a name badge carrier that hangs around your neck and you can keep cards in it.
3. Oh yea, get some business cards! Vistaprint is super cheap. Be sure it has a contact number, your email address, web/blog address and a PICTURE of you on it. Agents and editors need to put your face with your name.
4. Clean up your FB page. If you don’t want publishers and agents to know you dressed as Princess Leia, the Return of the Jedi gold bikini version, at a comic book convention, take that pic off your FB page.
5. Update your webpage/blog.
6. Bring a binder with paper and baseball card collector sleeves in it. Put the business
cards you get in the collector sleeve, and always write a little something about the person from whom you received the card, on the card’s back. The paper you can use for notes and if it’s in a hard binder, you will always have a writing surface.
7. Also, in that binder, have half a dozen one-sheets. That will be too many but err on the side of too many. A one-sheet is one sheet of paper that tells about you, what you write and a short synopsis of what you are working on and/or pitching. And, put your picture on that too. Don’t let it look cluttered. If you are pitching several manuscripts, consider making a one-sheet for each.
8. Practice your pitch. A lot. Have a two sentence version and thirty second version. And, know it well enough to taylor it to the situation. If you are writing a mystery/ romance and are talking to a romance editor, you will want to play up the romance aspect. If the agent is into mysteries, play up the mystery.
9. For heaven’s sake, love what you are pitching. If you don’t it will show and if you don’t love it, why should anybody else?
10. If one on one appointments are open, take ‘em! I met with 4 or 5 agents/editors last year for just that reason. Even if they aren’t into what you are writing, you can practice your pitch and they can give you pointers.
During lunches there will be agents, editors and mentors around at different tables. Find the ones you want to sit with and stake your claim to that seat quickly. At some point in the meal, you will pitch.
11. Sit with people you don’t know. I sat next to a gal named Heather Burch last year who has exploded in the CBA, YA market since our meeting. She is still a good friend and has given me great advice. Can’t wait to see her next week!
12. The conference is a NO PERFUME event! However, perfume for your mouth is fine and recommended. Keep mints in your pocket. Not Tick Tacks! They are too loud.
13. Bring a suit of armor and wear it under your clothes. Although your book may be the next best seller, you might be turned down. A lot. That’s ok. God decides the path of your work. Last year, an agent told me nobody wanted the book I was pitching and there was no market for it. He told me to forget about it and focus on my YA M/S instead. It hurt to hear and was hands down the best advice I got at the conference.
14. Laugh lots and learn even more. Get sleep, eat well and give yourself some grace. You might mess up a pitch, maybe go blank a couple times, you might burst into tears and rip your Spanx at the same moment. So what? You think those professionals haven’t seen that a million times? Again, God is in charge and your purpose in His kingdom will not be thwarted by your brain, tears or fat compromised lycra. He’s a big God.
See y’all there!